Reversing Aging's Terrible Toll on the Mind

UVA Brain Discovery Published in Nature

Aging lymphatic vessels connecting the brain and the immune system play critical roles in both Alzheimer’s disease and the decline in cognitive ability that comes with time, new research reveals. By improving the function of these vessels, scientists at UVA have dramatically enhanced the ability of older mice to learn and improve their memories. The work may provide doctors an entirely new path to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, age-related memory loss, and other neurodegenerative diseases. 

“If we can make old mice learn better, that tells me there is something that can be done,” Kipnis says. “I’m actually very optimistic that one day we could live to a very, very, very old age and not develop Alzheimer’s.”
- Jony Kipnis

Kipnis’ work gives us the most complete picture yet of the role these vessels play in the brain’s ability to cleanse itself—and highlights their tremendous importance for brain function and healthy aging. This new discovery may offer a way to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s to the point that treatments are unnecessary—to delay it beyond the length of the current human lifespan. 

“If we can make old mice learn better, that tells me there is something that can be done,” Kipnis says. “I’m actually very optimistic that one day we could live to a very, very, very old age and not develop Alzheimer’s.” 

To read the journal article in NATURE, click here.