Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


Young blood recharges brains of old mice

Something — or some things — in the blood of young mice has the ability to restore mental capabilities in old mice, a new study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators has found.

If the same goes for humans, it could spell a new paradigm for recharging aging brains, and it might mean new therapeutic approaches for treating dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers used sophisticated techniques to pin down numerous important anatomical and molecular changes in the brains of old mice that shared the blood of young mice. In particular, they noted changes in the hippocampus—the brain’s memory center.

“There are factors present in blood from young mice that can recharge an old mouse’s brain so that it functions more like a younger one,” said neurologist Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, senior study author. “We’re working intensively to find out what those factors might be and from exactly which tissues they originate.” He said it is too early to tell if the results will translate into humans.

Older mice injected with plasma from young or old mice were trained to locate a submerged platform in a water-filled container using memory cues from their surroundings. Untreated older mice did poorly compared with young mice, as they did when injected with plasma from old mice. But if they were infused with plasma from young mice, they did much better.

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