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Longevity gene seen protecting brain functions among elderly

Longevity gene seen protecting brain functions among elderly

The gene variant that bestows long life also preserves the ability to think, learn and remember, a study of the very elderly reported.
The study of people with an average age of 100 concluded that those with the so-called longevity gene were nearly three times as likely to have normal brain function as those without it. The study will appear in the December 26 edition of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
About 1 in 10,000 "Westerners," including people in North America and Western Europe, live to be 100, the study's author, Nir Barzilai, said in an interview. The gene that aids in longevity by protecting against cholesterol buildup in blood vessels also helps the brain function normally and may protect against Alzheimer's.
Some of the participants "had smoked, some had once been obese," said Barzilai, who is director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "There were no other environmental factors they had in common" except this gene.
The gene variant alters cholesterol particles in the blood, making them larger. This makes them less able to lodge in the blood-vessel linings, leading to fatty buildup that can cause heart attacks and strokes, Barzilai said. Drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co., already are trying to develop drugs that mimic this gene action, he said.
He began studying and administering cognitive tests eight years ago to 158 people of Ashkenazi, or Eastern European, Jewish descent aged 95 years and older. Barzilai and other researchers also validated their findings using a group of 124 Ashkenazi Jews who were between age 75 and 85.


Updated : 2021-05-18 12:43 GMT+08:00