Jude Coleman in Nature:
Scientists have been trying to unravel the mysteries of why memory diminishes with age for decades. Now they have discovered a possible remedy — cerebrospinal fluid from younger brains1.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from young mice can improve memory function in older mice, researchers report today in Nature. A direct brain infusion of young CSF probably improves the conductivity of the neurons in ageing mice, which improves the process of making and recalling memories. The team also suggests that the improvements are largely due to a specific protein in the fluid.
“This is super exciting from the perspective of basic science, but also looking towards therapeutic applications,” says Maria Lehtinen, a neurobiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts. CSF is the central nervous system’s version of plasma: a soup of essential ions and nutrients that cushions the brain and spinal cord and is essential for normal brain development. Physicians frequently use it as an indicator of brain health, and a biomarker of neurological diseases. But as mammals age, CSF loses some of its punch. Those changes might affect cells related to memory, says co-author Tal Iram, a neuroscientist at Stanford University in California. “Could we do something about it by re-exposing these cells to younger CSF?” she asks. “That was the overarching question.”