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MIT researchers find that Sirtuin1 may boost memory and learning ability
Date:7/11/2010

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. The same molecular mechanism that increases life span through calorie restriction may help boost memory and brainpower, researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory report in the July 11 issue of Nature.

Resveratrol, found in wine, has been touted as a life-span enhancer because it activates a group of enzymes known as sirtuins, which have gained fame in recent years for their ability to slow the aging process. Now MIT researchers report that Sirtuin1 a protein that in humans is encoded by the SIRT1 gene also promotes memory and brain flexibility.

The work may lead to new drugs for Alzheimer's disease and other debilitating neurological diseases.

"We demonstrated previously that Sirtuin1 promotes neuronal survival in age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders. In our cell and mouse models for Alzheimer's disease, SIRT1 promoted neuronal survival, reduced neurodegeneration and prevented learning impairment," said Li-Huei Tsai, director of the Picower Institute and lead author of the study.

"We have now found that SIRT1 activity also promotes plasticity and memory," said Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "This result demonstrates a multi-faceted role of SIRT1 in the brain, further highlighting its potential as a target for the treatment of neurodegeneration and conditions with impaired cognition, with implications for a wider range of central nervous system disorders."

In separate work at MIT, researchers discovered that the sir2 (silent information regulator) gene is a key regulator of longevity in both yeast and worms. Ongoing studies are exploring whether this highly conserved gene also governs longevity in mammals.

The mammalian version of the gene, SIRT1, seems to have evolved complex systemic roles in cardiac function, DNA repair and genomic stability. SIRT1 is thought to be a key regulator of an evoluti
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Contact: Jennifer Hirsch
jfhirsch@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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