Posted on Jun 04, 2019, 9 p.m.
The US FDA has recently warned against anti-aging therapies in the form of blood transfusions from younger donors, however, a new study has shown young blood may be beneficial to fighting age related decline, as published in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.
Blood of younger mice was injected into older mice by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers who were able to identify the specific proteins responsible for promoting synapse formation and reversing decline in the brains of the older mice and boost neural development.
Blood from two groups of mice, one cohort being two weeks old and the other 12-15 months old were applied to human brain cells grown from embryonic stem cells; results showed only the younger group’s blood contained the proteins which was observed in the lab grown neurons to grow more branches and form twice as many connections, factors that are signs of healthy and increased neural development.
Thrombospondin-4 THBS4 and SPARC-like protein 1 were found to be the two key proteins that increased brain cell growth in the older mice by helping to bolster and increase synapses in the brain which are nerve connections that deteriorate over time, and synapse loss is accelerated in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Here, we asked whether young blood is enriched in factors that act directly on neurons to promote synapse formation. We show that serum from young but not old mice indeed directly boosts synapse formation in cultured neurons, and identify two factors, thrombospondin-4 and SPARCL1, that are enriched in young blood and mediate these effects.”
Even though the key compounds in young blood were identified that promote synapse formation, it is not understood how they increase cell growth, and it will be some time before human trials as there are still many unknown factors to address. For example if the compounds are found to bolster human brain cell growth, this will present another potential issue to address of the blood-brain barrier which may prevent the proteins from being able to reach the brain.
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