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Longevity gene may boost brain power
Date:5/9/2014

tho-enhanced mice lived longer and had higher levels of klotho in the blood and in a brain area known as the hippocampus, which controls some types of learning and memory. Similar to human studies, the klotho-enhanced mice performed better on a variety of learning and memory tests, regardless of age. In one test, the mice remembered the location of a hidden target in a maze better, which allowed them to find it twice as fast as control mice.

Learning is thought to strengthen communication between nerve cells in the brain at structures called synapses. In the hippocampus, many synapses use a chemical called glutamate to communicate. Electrical recordings suggested that klotho makes it more likely these synapses will be strengthened during learning and memory.

NMDA receptors control communication at many glutamate synapses. GluN2B subunits are components of some NMDA receptors. Previous studies have shown that the presence of GluN2B at synapses is associated with changes in synaptic strength and learning and memory. In this study, the researchers found that synapses in the brains of klotho-enhanced mice had more GluN2B subunits than control mice. Treating klotho mice with a drug that selectively blocks GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors reduced their ability to perform on learning and memory tests. The results suggest that increasing the presence of GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors may be one way that klotho could enhance cognitive skills.

"Overall our results suggest that klotho may increase cognitive reserve or the brain's capacity to perform everyday intellectual tasks," said senior author Lennart Mucke, M.D., director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease, San Francisco, CA, and the Joseph B. Martin Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, and professor of neurology at UCSF.


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Contact: Christopher G. Thomas
thomaschr@ninds.nih.gov
301-496-5751
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Source:Eurekalert

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