Can Young Blood Help Old Brains?

Recent research in which blood from younger mice helped fight cognitive decline in older animals may offer promise for treating Alzheimer's disease in humans one day.

A study published in JAMA Neurology reports that the blood from young mice appeared to increase brain cell generation and slow memory loss in older animals.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine connected blood vessels of young and old mice to establish a shared blood supply. Older mice connected to younger mice more easily repaired their muscle and bone after an injury, compared to older mice not connected to younger mice. More experiments revealed older mice connected to younger mice experienced an increase in production of new brain cells, particularly in the area of the brain involved with memory. These results supported previous findings from a 2014 study that revealed injecting blood plasma from young mice into older mice improved learning and memory.

Young blood contains more compounds involved with tissue and muscle repair compared to older blood. Researchers also hypothesize that the “messengers” in blood, such as hormones and growth factors, may explain the rejuvenating effects.

More research is needed to see if the effects seen in mice can also occur in humans. One concern is that increasing cell generation has the potential to cause cancer.

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