Protein helps old blood age the brain of young mice

Protein helps old blood age the brain of young mice

Old blood can prematurely age the brains of young mice, and scientists may now be closer to understanding how. A protein positioned in the cells that form a barrier between the brain and blood will be partly to blame, experiments on mice suggest.

If something comparable happens in humans, scientists say, methods for countering the protein might also keep the promise for treating age-related brain decline.


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The preliminary research, published online January 3 at, focused on a form of the protein called VCAM1, which interacts with immune cells in response to inflammation. As mice and humans age, levels of that protein circulating in the blood rise, Alzheimer researcher Tony Wyss-Coray at Stanford University and associates determined.

Protein helps old blood age the brain of young mice

After injecting young mice in the back of an eye fixed with plasma from old mice, the team determined that VCAM1 levels also rose in certain parts of the blood-brain barrier, a mesh of tightly woven cells that help to protect the mind from harmful factors inside the blood.

The young mice confirmed signs and symptoms of brain deterioration as well, consisting of inflammation and reduced birthrates of new nerve cells. Plasma from young mice had no such effects.

Interfering with VCAM1 may also assist save you the premature ageing of brains. Plasma from old mice didn’t have a strong effect when injected into younger mice genetically engineered to lack VCAM1 in certain blood-brain barrier cells.

Nor did it have an effect on mice treated with antibodies that blocked the activity of VCAM1. Those antibodies also seemed to assist the brains of older mice that had aged evidently, the group discovered.

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The outcomes suggest that anti-ageing treatments concentrated on particular elements of the blood-brain barrier may hold promise.

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