Science

Declining anti-inflammatory molecules may play key role in brain aging

Researchers have found a singular kind of fats molecule in the brain may have anti-inflammatory results and play an important role in stopping age-related neurological illness. Animal research reveal ranges of the molecule decline with age and their absence might contribute to brain irritation related to age-related neurodegeneration.

Several many years in the past scientists found a novel class of lipids in rat brains, dubbed SGDGs (3-sulfogalactosyl diacylglycerols). At the time just a few research revealed these SGDGs appeared to play a role in growing rat brains, after which lower in amount because the animals get older.

But by the top of the Nineteen Seventies researchers had all however forgotten about SGDGs. They had been by no means established as being current in human brains and had been relegated to a footnote in animal molecule databases.

“SGDGs were first identified in the 1970s, but there were few follow-up studies,” explained first author on the new study Dan Tan. “These lipids were essentially forgotten and missing from the lipid databases. Nobody knew SGDGs would be changing or regulated in aging, let alone that they have bioactivity and, possibly, be therapeutically targetable.”

The new research from Tan and colleagues never set out to specifically study SGDGs. Instead, the initial focus was to conduct a broad investigation of lipid changes in mouse brains as they age.

In conducting this investigation the researchers discovered SGDGs progressively decrease in mouse brains over the course of the animal’s entire lifespan. The research also showed the age-related decline in SGDGs occurred specifically in the animal’s central nervous system.

The next step of the research involved synthesizing SGDGs and exploring their biological role. In lab tests the researchers found SGDGs possess anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting their age-related decline could influence neurodegenerative disease.

The final part of the study was to work out whether SGDGs are actually present in the human brain. The last time this was investigated, in 1978, SGDGs were not detected. However, analytical techniques have evolved since then and using new technology the study found, for the first time, evidence of SGDGs in both human and primate brains.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study showing that a class of aging-related CNS lipids exerts anti-inflammatory effects,” the researchers concluded in the study. “Our findings suggest that the progressive loss of SGDGs with age contributes to neuroinflammation in the aged brain, eventually leading to pathological changes associated with aging.”

Alan Saghatelian, co-corresponding author on the study, has a particular research focus on lipids. He believes lipids are a profoundly understudied area in aging research, and while more work will certainly need to be done to establish the implications of declining SGDGs in humans, these findings are good evidence these fat molecules are worthy of investigation.

“These SGDGs clearly play an important role in aging, and this finding opens up the possibility that there are other critical aging pathways we’ve been missing,” says Saghatelian. “This is a pretty clear case of something that should be dug into more in the future.”

The new research was printed in Nature Chemical Biology.

Source: Salk Institute

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