Breakthrough Research Offers Clues to Slow Down Age Related Brain Degeneration

Breakthrough Research Offers Clues to Slow Down Age Related Brain Degeneration

Aging is a natural and irreversible process that is accompanied with debilitating problems like dementia due to the degeneration of the brain that may occur either due to stress of inflammation or the accumulation of waste products that are toxic. However, there are also mechanisms that help repair defective structures in the brain and prevent the brain from degeneration according to the experiments conducted on mice by the researchers at the Universities of Bonn and Mainz.

The researchers turned off the receptor called cannabinoid 1 or CB1 in knockout mice, a special type of genetically engineered mouse, and this increased the rate of progression of dementia when compared with the control group as presented in the latest issue of the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). They also reported that this receptor does not have an addictive potential that produces the intoxicating effect induced by marijuana. But it does play an important role in brain degeneration due to its protective effect on nerve cells. Natural components and active ingredients of marijuana called end ocannabinoids bind to these CB1 receptor proteins, triggering a sequence of biological signals.

The knockout mice in the experiment lost nerve cells in the central area of the brain that is responsible for forming and storing information called the hippocampus and inflammation in the brain was also reported along with clearly diminished memory capacity and learning. Mice with the CB1 receptor intact had healthy nerve cells and better memory capacities and learning capabilities, which suggest that the end ocannabinoid system possibly offers a protective mechanism that prevents the aging of the human brain.

The mice in the experiment belonged to three different age categories; the first group comprised six week old mice, the second group had mice that were 5 months old or middle aged and the third group consisted of mice that were at least a year old. The mice were given various tasks to perform and master like locating a submerged platform in a pool. They were shown the location of the platform after which it was moved and this test was repeated multiple times to test the learning ability and memory of the rodents.

The application of cannabis or medical marijuana in reducing the rate of brain degeneration is an ongoing process that requires additional research according to scientists. It is important to understand the role that these CB1 receptors play to protect the brain from inflammation using signaling.

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