Brain scans show signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the presence of telomere shortening, a sign of cellular ageing.
According to a study published in PLOS ONE on March 22, a new study by Anya Topiwala of Oxford Population Health (part of the University of Oxford in UK) found that Alzheimer’s brain changes are linked with a shortening of telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes which shortens as cells age.
Telomeres are protective chromosome ends that protect DNA. However, every time the cell divides they lose a little of their length. Short telomeres can be a sign that cellular aging and stress are taking place. They are also linked to a higher incidence of neurological and mental disorders. There is little information about the relationship between telomeres and the changes in brain tissue of those with neurological disorders. Understanding these relationships could provide insights into the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.
Researchers compared the telomeres of white blood cells with brain MRIs, and electronic health records, from over 31,000 participants. The UK Biobank is a large biomedical database that contains anonymized genetic and lifestyle information for half a million UK residents.