Mitochondrial Gene May Protect Against Alzheimer’s, Other Aging-related Diseases, Study Reports

Mitochondrial Gene May Protect Against Alzheimer’s, Other Aging-related Diseases, Study Reports
A previously unknown genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias has been uncovered. The culprit, known as humanin, is a neuroprotective factor known to decrease with age. It can protect brain cells from accumulating amyloid beta — a key player in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. "Because of the beneficial effects of humanin, a decrease in circulating levels could lead to an increase in several different diseases of aging, particularly in dementia," Pinchas Cohen, MD, dean of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and one of the scientists who discovered humanin 15 years ago, said in a press release. The study, "Humanin Prevents Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Mice and is Associated with Improved Cognitive Age in Humans," was published in the journal Scientific Reports. Humanin is a naturally occurring peptide, or small protein, produced by mitochondria, which are the small cellular organelles that provide energy to cells. It is specifically encoded within the mitochondrial genome, which is independent and differs from the nuclear genome,which is present in the nucleus of each cell and contains most of our genetic information. Humanin has been shown to be neuroprotective in multiple studies, both in cellular and animal models. The importance of the mitochondria in the development of Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more apparent, and evidence suggests that humanin can protect against amyloid-be
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