Study implicates hyperactive immune system in aging brain disorders

NIH study implicates hyperactive immune system in aging brain disorders
In a study of flies, NIH scientists showed how the immune system may be a culprit in the damage caused by aging brain disorders. Credit: Giniger lab, NIH/NINDS

In a study of fruit flies, NIH scientists suggested that the body's immune system may play a critical role in the damage caused by aging brain disorders. The results are based on experiments in which the researchers altered the activity of Cdk5, a gene that preclinical studies have suggested is important for early brain development and may be involved in neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Previously, they found that altering Cdk5 sped up the genetic aging process, causing the flies to die earlier than normal and have problems with walking or flying late in life and greater signs of neurodegenerative brain damage.

In this study, published in Cell Reports, they suggested that altering Cdk5 resulted in the death of dopamine releasing neurons, especially in the brains of older flies. Typically, Parkinson's disease damages the same types of cells in humans. Further experiments in flies suggested the neuron loss happened because altering Cdk5 slowed autophagy, or a cell's waste disposal system that rids the body of damaged cells in a contained, controlled fashion, which in turn triggered the to attack the animal's own neurons. This immune system attack is a much "messier" and more diffuse process than autophagy. Genetically restoring the waste system or blocking the immune system's responses prevented the reduction in dopamine neurons caused by altering Cdk5. The authors concluded that this in which a breakdown in autophagy triggers a widely destructive immune reaction may occur in human brain during several neurodegenerative disorders and that researchers may want to look to these systems for new treatment targets and strategies.


Explore further

Scientists search for the clocks behind aging brain disorders

Provided by National Institutes of Health
Citation: Study implicates hyperactive immune system in aging brain disorders (2019, January 2) retrieved 23 March 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-01-implicates-hyperactive-immune-aging-brain.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
282 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more