Its all downhill after the big 40

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Its all downhill after the big 40

The Brain May Start to Age at 40 Years

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - US researchers studying the brains of people 26 to 106 years of age have found evidence that brain function starts to slow around age 40.

In science journal Nature, Dr. Bruce A. Yankner, from Harvard Medical School (news - web sites) in Boston, and colleagues report that they've identified a set of genes in the brain that show reduced activity after age 40. These genes, they note, play key roles in a variety of cell functions.


According to the team, DNA damage begins to accumulate in these genes. This damage could affect vital brain activities, such as learning and memory. Moreover, this may initiate a program of brain aging "that starts early in life."


The researchers acknowledge that exactly when aging begins and what triggers its onset is "one of the major conundrums of biology." In early adulthood and then again in late adulthood, there is not much difference from one individual to the next regarding gene activity in the brain. In contrast, from 40 to 70 years of age, it's possible to see wide differences in gene activity between two individuals of the same age.


"Thus, individuals may diverge in their rates of aging as they transit through middle age, approaching a stage of 'old age' at different rates," the authors conclude. It will be interesting, they say, to study this relationship in different populations.


SOURCE: Nature, June 9th online issue, 2004.


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By netchicken: posted on 11-6-2004








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