For a human, one of the first signs someone is getting old is the inability to remember little things; maybe they misplace their keys, or get lost on an oft-taken route. For a laboratory mouse, it’s forgetting that when bright lights and a high-pitched buzz flood your cage, an electric zap to the foot quickly follows.
But researchers at Stanford University discovered that if you transfuse cerebrospinal fluid from a young mouse into an old one, it will recover its former powers of recall and freeze in anticipation. They also identified a protein in that cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, that penetrates into the hippocampus, where it drives improvements in memory.
The tantalizing breakthrough, published Wednesday in Nature, suggests that youthful factors circulating in the CSF, or drugs that target the same pathways, might be tapped to slow the cognitive declines of old age. Perhaps even more importantly, it shows for the first time the potential of CSF as a vehicle to get therapeutics for neurological diseases into the hard-to-reach fissures of the human brain.
“This is the first study that demonstrates real improvement in cognitive function with CSF infusion, and so that’s what makes it a real milestone,” said Maria Lehtinen, a neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the new research. “The super-exciting direction here is that it lends support to the idea that we can harness the CSF as a therapeutic avenue for a broad range of conditions.”
Stanford researchers discovered that if you transfuse brain fluid from a young mouse into an old one, it will recover its former powers of recall. https://t.co/CDlmZeH7Gt
— STAT (@statnews) May 11, 2022