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Disruption of biological clocks causes neurodegeneration, early death
Date:1/10/2012

that disrupts circadian rhythms and another that causes flies to develop brain pathologies during aging. These double mutants had a 32-50 percent shorter lifespan, lost much of their motor function, and developed significant "vacuoles" or holes in their brains far sooner than flies with a functional clock.

The decline and loss of clock function may be just the beginning of a damaging, circular process, said Jadwiga Giebultowicz, an OSU professor of zoology, member of the OSU Center for Healthy Aging Research and project leader.

"When the biological clock begins to fail, rhythms that regulate cell function and health get disrupted, and we now know that this predisposes the brain to neurodegeneration," Giebultowicz said. "But that neurodegeneration, in turn, may cause more damage to the clock function.

"A healthy biological clock helps protect against this damage," she said. "When the clock fails, the damage processes speed up."

Aging is closely associated with this process, Giebultowicz said, but it's not clear exactly how. Molecular clock oscillations decline during aging. Finding ways to restore them might form a possible therapy for biological clock damage and help to prevent disease, and work in that area will be part of future research.


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Contact: Jadwiga Giebultowicz
giebultj@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-5530
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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