Posts Tagged Aging

Animal Study Suggests New Class of Antioxidants May Be Beneficial for Parkinson’s


Animal Study Suggests New Class of Antioxidants May Be Beneficial for Parkinson’s A new powerful class of antioxidants may provide relief from Parkinson’s in the future.

The medication, called synthetic triterpenoids, blocked development of Parkinson’s disease in an animal model.

The trial is discussed in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling , as authored by Dr. Bobby Thomas, a neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia.

Thomas and his colleagues were able to block the death of dopamine-producing brain cells that occurs in Parkinson’s by using the drugs to bolster Nrf2, a natural antioxidant and inflammation fighter.

Researchers know that stressors from a variety of sources, be it trauma, insect bites or the simple aging process increases oxidative stress causing the body to respond with inflammation — as a part of the natural healing process.

“This creates an environment in your brain that is not conducive for normal function,” Thomas said.

“You can see the signs of oxidative damage in the brain long before the neurons actually degenerate in Parkinson’s.”

Nrf2, the master regulator of oxidative stress and inflammation, is – inexplicably – significantly decreased early in Parkinson’s. In fact, Nrf2 activity declines normally with age.

“In Parkinson’s patients you can clearly see a significant overload of oxidative stress, which is why we chose this target,” Thomas said. “We used drugs to selectively activate Nrf2.”

Researchers looked at a number of antioxidants already under study for a wide range of diseases from kidney failure to heart disease and diabetes, and found triterpenoids to be the most effective on Nrf2.

Co-author Dr. Michael Sporn, Professor of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, chemically modified the agents so they could permeate the protective blood-brain barrier.

Researchers found that in both human neuroblastoma and mouse brain cells they were able to document an increase in Nrf2 in response to the synthetic triterpenoids.

Their preliminary evidence indicates the synthetic triterpenoids also increase Nrf2 activity in astrocytes, a brain cell type which nourishes neurons and hauls off some of their garbage.

The drugs didn’t protect brain cells in an animal where the Nrf2 gene was deleted, more proof that that Nrf2 is the drugs’ target.

Researchers are now studying the impact of synthetic triterpenoids in an animal model genetically programmed to acquire PD slowly, as humans do.

Source: Medical College of Georgia

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Resting After Learning Aids Memory


Resting After Learning Aids MemoryThe adage “use it or lose it” has led many aging adults to work on crossword puzzles, participate in web activities for memory improvement and do mental exercises to challenge cognition.

A new study suggests that maybe all they really need to do to cement new learning is to sit and close their eyes for a few minutes. Psychological scientist Michaela Dewar, Ph.D.,  and her colleagues show that memory can be boosted by taking a brief wakeful rest after learning something verbally new.

“Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds,” says Dewar. “Indeed, our work demonstrates that activities that we are engaged in for the first few minutes after learning new information really affect how well we remember this information after a week.”

Investigators performed two separate experiments on 33 normally aging adults between the ages of 61 and 87. Participants were told two short stories and told to remember as many details as possible.

Immediately afterward, they were asked to describe what happened in the story. Then they were given a 10-minute delay that consisted either of wakeful resting or playing a spot-the-difference game on the computer.

During the wakeful resting portion, participants were asked to just rest quietly with their eyes closed in a darkened room for 10 minutes while the experimenter left to “prepare for the next test.”

During this period participants could daydream or think about whatever they wanted. The key aspect of this pause was to keep the eyes closed, and to not be distracted by anything else or receive any new information.

When participants played the spot-the-difference game, they were presented with picture pairs on a screen for 30 seconds each and were instructed to locate two subtle differences in each pair and point to them.

The task was chosen because it required attention but, unlike the story, it was nonverbal.

In one study, the participants were asked to recall both stories half an hour later and then a full week later.

Participants remembered much more story material when the story presentation had been followed by a period of wakeful resting.

Researchers say emerging evidence suggests that the point at which we experience new information is “just at a very early stage of memory formation and that further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time.”

Researchers believe the new input crowds out recently acquired information, suggesting that the current experiment shows that the process of consolidating memories takes a little time.

That is, the most important method to augment memory retention is peace and quiet.

The article is published in the journal Psychological Science.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Elderly man with eyes shut photo by shutterstock.

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