Posted on 12 April 2021
Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Why is this research important: The human brain is a highly complex organ, comprising a wide range of neural and non-neural cells each with distinct and different biological functions. Disruption to the normal functioning of neural and non-neural brain cells is thought to contribute to cognitive decline and development of age-related neurological disease.
Astrocytes, the most numerous non-neural brain cells, is responsible for a wide range of functions, including: neuron support, damage repair, synapse regulation and blood brain barrier maintenance. The impairment of these cells has been implicated in many diseases, although the precise pathological mechanisms are yet to be uncovered.
What did the researchers do: Researchers based at the Sanders-Brown Center of Ageing, in the US, conducted an extensive review of the current literature to uncover how astrocyte dysfunction contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Key takeaway(s) from this research: The review concludes that several of the major pathophysiological processes present in Alzheimer’s disease, including sleep disturbances, impaired cerebrovascular function, neuroinflammation, hypometabolism and synapse degeneration, are all fundamentally connected through astrocyte dysfunction. Though much work remains to be done, it is evident astrocyte modulation could present a potent treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.