Mitochondria and Brain Function/Aging
By Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D.
Where did I place the car keys? Deterioration in mental function with age occurs throughout the animal kingdom, but the degree of deterioration varies. There are some smart old mice as well as some smart old people. Why do some have a sharper decline in mental function than others?
A recent study suggests some potential answers. Post-mortem examination of the brains of elderly persons with a neurodegenerative condition, as compared to the brains of elderly persons with no such condition, demonstrated a significant increase in mutations in mitochondrial genes. Mutations in the region involved in switching the gene on and off were two-thirds more common in diseased brains than their normal counterparts.