Research press release




神経系が老化の調節に関与していることがこれまでの研究から示唆されているが、神経系と老化の関係を裏打ちする機構を解明することは困難だった。今回、Bruce Yanknerたちの研究グループは、死後のヒト脳組織における遺伝子発現パターンを調べて、長寿者(85歳以上)の場合に神経興奮とシナプス機能に関連する遺伝子の発現が低下していることを明らかにした。



Overall levels of neural activity in the brain, mediated by a protein called REST, may influence lifespan, suggests a Nature study. The finding, based on various studies in model organisms and humans, could assist researchers seeking new approaches to slow ageing in humans.

Previous studies have suggested that the nervous system has a role in the regulation of ageing, but the mechanisms underpinning this relationship have been hard to define. Bruce Yankner and colleagues studied patterns of gene expression in post-mortem human brain tissue and found that genes related to neural excitation and synaptic function are downregulated in long-lived individuals (who were at least 85 years old).

Turning to model organisms, they found that they could extend the lifespan of nematode worms by lowering levels of neural excitement and synaptic activity in the brain using drugs or genetic manipulations. Increasing levels of neural activity had the opposite effect. This finding suggests a causal link between lifespan and patterns of neural activity.

The central nervous system is full of excitatory and inhibitory neurons that increase and decrease synaptic activity, respectively. The authors think that an imbalance in the overall levels of excitement and inhibition may contribute to the ageing process, and highlight the role of a mammalian transcription factor called REST, which dampens neural activity. Strategies that boost REST levels and reduce excitatory neural activity could be used to influence ageing, they suggest.

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1647-8

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