(ORDO NEWS) — Neurons in the memory area of the brain are larger in centenarians (aged 80 or older) than in people who are 20 to 30 years younger or have early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
This conclusion was made by scientists at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in the United States.
The ability of people in extreme old age to maintain high cognitive abilities and exceptional memory for their age is called superaging.
Super-aging people have been found to have a unique biological signature of large, healthy neurons in the entorhinal cortex within the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory formation, attention control, and spatial navigation.
These abnormal neurons lack tau protein tangles that can trigger the pathological process of neurodegradation.
In the study, the researchers analyzed post-mortem tissue samples from the entorhinal cortex of six “super old people” as well as seven elderly people with average cognitive abilities, six young people and five people with early Alzheimer’s disease.
This area of the brain is made up of six layers of neurons stacked on top of each other. Layer II, in particular, receives information from other memory centers and is a very important link in the brain’s memory chain.
It is in this layer that large and healthy neurons are located, in which the processes of formation of tau proteins are not observed.
It turned out that for an unknown reason, cell populations in the entorhinal cortex are selectively vulnerable to the formation of tau tangles during normal aging and in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
So, a characteristic marker of the disease is wrinkling (atrophy) of nerve cells. Further research is needed to understand how and why neuronal integrity is maintained in older “super old” people.
Contact us: [email protected]