APR 05, 2020 8:40 AM PDT

It May be Possible to Delay Memory Problems With the Right Diet

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

While advances in healthcare and medicine have increased life expectancies, the body still declines as it ages, causing a wide variety of problems. Scientists have been trying to learn more about why the aging process seems to be easier on some people, while others experience debilitating diseases, and whether we can ease the process. An answer to those questions might be found by looking at aging on the cellular level, where during aging, the genome becomes unstable, nutrient-sensing pathways degrade, and stem cells become exhausted, among other processes.

Image credit: Pixabay

Cognitive decline is another known feature of aging, and also occurs to a widely varying degree in different people. The adult brain has to create new neurons on a continuous basis, and for the most part, it happens in only a few parts of the brain. One of those regions is a section of the hippocampus where neural stem cells give rise to new neurons. The maintenance of these cells is critical to memory, and can be influenced by factors like diet and exercise. That may be part of the reason why aging is so heterogeneous.

In this work, the researchers wanted to know more about whether cell pathways that sense nutrients are a link between aging and lifestyle. These pathways are already known to be related to the maintenance of stem cells. Reporting in Communications Biology, scientists learned more about genes that play important roles in sensing nutrients, and how they are related to memory.

This work showed that a gene called ABTB1 is important to the regulation of neural stem cells and may also be related to memory. A gene called GRB10 was suggested to be a molecular link between aging in neural stem cells, diet, and hippocampal-dependent cognitive performance. An interaction between a gene called SIRT1 and exercise levels was linked to memory test outcomes as well.

"Our study shows that nutrient-sensing pathways play an important role in memory and suggests that the ABTB1 and GRB10 genes are likely molecular links for the association between diet, the aging of neural stem cells and our memory ability," said the lead study author, Chiara de Lucia of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's College London. "Identifying these genes as the missing links between these three important variables could inform new approaches to help improve the aging process through targeted changes in diet and exercise and ultimately in developing new drugs in the future."

While people all carry the ABTB1, GRB10, and SIRT1 genes, the sequences for them may carry small differences from person to person, which may modify how people respond to environmental changes.

"Our findings suggest that changes in lifestyle may be able to delay a decline in memory and thinking but that the effectiveness of these approaches will depend on the genetic makeup of each person. For example, adherence to a diet such as the Mediterranean diet may be most beneficial for people with a specific GRB10 mutation while increased exercise may be a better approach for participants with specific SIRT1 variations. Future research should look to replicate these findings on a larger dataset which would allow for the testing of 3-way interactions between diet, exercise and memory to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how these relate to one another," said the senior study author, Sandrine Thuret of the IoPPN.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via King's College London, Communications Biology

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 15, 2020
Cancer
Soy helps post-op treatment of bone cancer
SEP 15, 2020
Soy helps post-op treatment of bone cancer
New research published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia highlights the post-operative benefits of soy in treatment ...
OCT 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Newly-Found Molecules May Treat Neurodegeneration
OCT 11, 2020
Newly-Found Molecules May Treat Neurodegeneration
The NMDA receptor is known to play a crucial role in memory, and synaptic plasticity - where neurons change, altering ne ...
NOV 11, 2020
Health & Medicine
A smart path for novel biologics
NOV 11, 2020
A smart path for novel biologics
Introduction  Cell culture is at the heart of the production process for many biopharmaceuticals, but finding the o ...
OCT 21, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Extracellular Vesicles Help Heart Cells Survive a Heart Attack
OCT 21, 2020
Extracellular Vesicles Help Heart Cells Survive a Heart Attack
During a heart attack, blood flow is blocked and cells lose oxygen and begin to die. Scientists are developing many new ...
OCT 22, 2020
Microbiology
SARS-CoV-2 Has Multiple Routes Into Cells
OCT 22, 2020
SARS-CoV-2 Has Multiple Routes Into Cells
Since the pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2 emerged on the scene late last year, it's left a trail of devastation around the glo ...
NOV 19, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Different View of Chromosomes
NOV 19, 2020
A Different View of Chromosomes
Many of us are familiar with typical diagrams of a chromosome, which is usually drawn like a stubby X. While that pictur ...
Loading Comments...