Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


The Fertility Show


 

Brain has 'genetic calendar' for ageing

18 September 2017

By Annabel Slater

Appeared in BioNews 918

A 'genetic lifespan calendar' of lifelong gene expression changes has been discovered in human and mouse brains.

The researchers also suggest the changing pattern of gene expression could be linked to the development of schizophrenia in humans.

'The discovery of this genetic programme opens up a completely new way to understand behaviour and brain diseases throughout life,' said Professor Seth Grant at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Researchers examined how genes in the brain are turned on and off across the lifespan of mice and humans. They analysed existing data on RNA taken from brain tissue samples of different ages, to detect when regulatory changes in gene expression occurred.

'We found that actual age could be predicted by examination of an RNA sample from mouse and human brain tissue,' the team reported in the journal eLife.

Their findings indicated a regulatory genetic calendar which controls how and when different genes are expressed. In humans, they were able to map changes from development in the womb to 78 years old.

The peak of gene expression reorganisation occurred around 26 years of age in humans, and the genes affected included those associated with schizophrenia. The researchers suggest this may be why people with schizophrenia do not show symptoms until young adulthood, despite having the genetic changes linked to the condition from birth.

Most changes in gene expression were completed by middle age. Women show a slightly delayed calendar of changes compared with men. The team found the genetic calendar is also present in mice, with more rapid changes over a shorter lifespan, suggesting the calendar is shared between species of mammals.

'Many people believe our brain simply wears out as we age. But our study suggests that brain ageing is strictly controlled by our genes,' said co-author Dr Nathan Skene, also at Edinburgh.

The team suggests its research could eventually lead to therapeutic drugs that modify the genetic lifespan calendar for young adult patients with psychiatric disorders.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

02 October 2017 - by Charlott Repschlager 
A gene associated with schizophrenia influences a critical stage of early brain development in mice...

20 March 2017 - by Dr Julia Hill 
Two common variants of TMEM106B and progranulin (GRN) genes have been discovered to accelerate normal brain ageing...
01 February 2016 - by Helen Robertson 
A gene involved in managing the connections between brain cells appears to be associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia...
14 September 2015 - by Chris Hardy 
A blood test designed to assess how well somebody is ageing could be used to predict whether or not they are likely to develop certain illnesses, like Alzheimer's disease...
02 February 2015 - by Dr Victoria Burchell 
A genetic variant may not only help some people live longer, but also changes the way their brain ages, a study suggests....

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Jacques Cohen

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Andy Greenfield

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation