Posted on Jun 12, 2014, 6 a.m.
A hormone that helps us live longer could also confer cognitive effects.
A variant of the gene KLOTHO is known for its anti-aging effects in people fortunate enough to carry one copy. Lennart Mucke, from the University of California/San Francisco (UCSF; California, USA), and colleagues report that the KLOTHO variant may also lend beneficial cognitive effects by increasing overall levels of klotho in the bloodstream and brain. In a mouse model, the team observed that elevating klotho enhanced the formation and flexibility of neural connections, the cellular basis for learning and memory; and the effects were evident in mice young and old. Further, the team found that among three separate cohorts of people participating in aging studies (over 700 subjects totaled), their analysis showed that people with one of the life-extending variants of the KLOTHO gene scored better on cognitive tests. The effect didn't correlate with age in humans. In both mice and humans, klotho appears to work in a manner independent of aging and may increase cognitive reserve at different life stages. The researchers submit that in healthy, aging humans the positive cognitive effects of carrying one copy of the KLOTHO variant may even exceed the harmful effect of carrying the notorious E4 variant of the APOE gene, which is thought to contribute to Alzheimer's disease.
Dubal DB, Yokoyama JS, Zhu L, Broestl L, Worden K, Mucke L, et al. “Life extension factor klotho enhances cognition.” Cell Rep. 2014 May 22;7(4):1065-76.