Cerebrospinal fluid injections restore memory to old mice

(ORDO NEWS) — Cerebrospinal fluid taken from young mice and injected into old mice improved their memory performance. Scientists even figured out exactly how this happens and found a protein that triggers the “rejuvenation” of brain structures.

Despite a rather sinister reputation, blood transfusion rejuvenation is still practiced today. Plasma obtained from young and healthy donors does work, although such a procedure is fraught with dangerous side effects.

Scientists are trying to find out exactly which factors in the blood are responsible for “rejuvenation” and how they work. And recently, biologists from Stanford University have shown that the cerebrospinal fluid of young donors can stimulate positive changes in old recipients.

Cerebrospinal fluid bathes the brain and spinal cord, protecting them, delivering nutrients and signaling substances to all corners of the complex structure.

During their experiments, Tal Iram and her co-authors took cerebrospinal fluid from experimental mice aged two to three months and injected it under the upper brain membranes of 18-25-month-old mice daily for a week.

At the same time, “older” animals were previously trained to associate a flash of light and a certain sound with a weak but unpleasant electric shock, so that the stimulus caused them to freeze in anticipation of a discharge.

With age, this reaction weakened, but injections of cerebrospinal fluid from young donors again “brought back to life” the memories.

Experiments carried out a week after the completion of the procedure showed that such mice, having noticed the danger signal, froze more often than their counterparts from the control groups, which either did not receive such injections or received a saline solution – a simulator of cerebrospinal fluid.

To understand the mechanisms behind this effect, scientists took samples of brain tissue from rodents after injections of cerebrospinal fluid.

Analysis of these samples showed that, compared to control animals, they have increased production of SRF , one of the protein transcription factors that control gene activity. The work of SRF in the brain, in particular, is associated with increased development of oligodendrocyte cells.

They play a supportive role, providing isolation of conducting axons, and with it, faster and more reliable signal transmission, including in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory.

Normally, in old 25-month-old mice, the number of oligodendrocytes in the hippocampus is noticeably less than in three-month-old mice. However, the growth factor Fgf17 contained in the cerebrospinal fluid of young donors increases the amount of SRF, which, in turn, increases the number of oligodendrocytes.

Scientists have shown that for the same effect, one can confine oneself to an injection of a simple solution of Fgf17, a molecule that in itself provides a “rejuvenation” of memory. At least in mice.

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