Scientists recently discovered a process by which immune cells can drive aging in the brain, and how to block this pathway to improve memory and maze navigation in older mice. The findings suggest a potential avenue to develop new treatments for cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. The study, led by researchers from Stanford University, was published in Nature on Jan. 20.
Inflammation is part of the immune system response to infection or injury. But as people age, they may have chronic low-level inflammation, which is linked to age-related diseases and cognitive decline.
Normally, immune cells — including a group of cells called macrophages — create immune responses that protect the brain, such as disposing of abnormal forms of proteins that are tied to neurodegeneration. But as people — and mice — age, immune cells can start encouraging inflammation rather than protecting against it.