A unique set of neurons has been identified in the brains of long-lived people

(ORDO NEWS) — Neuroscientists have discovered that in the brains of older people who have lived for more than 80 years and retained mental clarity, there is a unique set of very large neurons in which there is almost no protein “garbage” associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This surprising discovery potentially indicates that very large nerve cells are present in the brains of centenarians from birth, and their large size persists throughout their lives.

This feature of the nervous system can be used to early identify potential centenarians among the general population. population,” said Tamar Gefen, an associate professor at Northwestern University in Chicago (USA), quoted by the press service of the university.

Today, biologists are actively interested in how long a person can, in principle, live, whether there is a limit to life expectancy, and how mutations affect the rate of aging. To do this, researchers are studying how various DNA modifications affect the lifespan of fruit flies, mice and primates.

In addition to animal experiments, scientists are trying to uncover the secrets of longevity by studying the genomes, life habits and body work of the world’s longest-living people, as well as residents of the so-called “longevity centers”.

So scientists call certain regions of the world, whose inhabitants live much longer than their neighbors. These include, in particular, several areas in Japan and southern Italy.

Longevity unique feature

Gefen and her colleagues uncovered an extremely unusual feature of long-lived people while studying the brain structure of six volunteers aged 80 and older living in different regions of the United States.

In the course of these observations, scientists focused their attention on the so-called entorhinal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for the formation of memories.

This part of the brain, as the researchers note, is affected primarily during the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which makes it especially interesting to study in the context of finding differences between centenarians with a clear mind and memory and other groups of people of age.

To obtain such information, scientists compared the structure of the entorhinal cortex in centenarians, as well as in healthy pensioners, young people and carriers of Alzheimer’s disease.

This comparison revealed a unique feature of the brain of centenarians, which is not typical for other people.

It turned out that in their entorhinal cortex there is a whole group of unusually large neurons, inside which there are no significant accumulations of tau protein, one of the pathogenic molecules associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Due to the presence of these cells, the brains of these people were 20 to 30 years younger than those of their peers.

These bodies, as noted by Gefen and her colleagues, were concentrated in the second layer of the entorhinal cortex, which is directly related to the storage of memories.

This explains why centenarians have an unusually strong memory and retain it throughout their lives, the researchers concluded.

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