Saul Villeda, PhD
The ability to reverse aging in the brain may enable us to sidestep the effects of aging that promote vulnerability to neurodegenerative diseases, providing a unique and unexplored therapeutic approach. We have recently shown that systemic manipulations such as heterochronic parabiosis or young blood administration can partially reverse age-related impairments in regenerative, synaptic and cognitive functions in the aged brain. Interestingly, heterochronic parabiosis studies revealed an age-dependent bi-directionality in the influence of the systemic environment indicating pro-youthful factors in young blood elicit rejuvenation while pro-aging factors in old blood drive pre-mature aging. Therefore, targeting pro-aging factors in old blood may provide an alternative approach to rejuvenate aging phenotypes. Our lab is interested in understanding what drives regenerative and cognitive impairments in the aging brain, and how the effects of aging can be reversed in the old brain. Ultimately, our goal is to elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms that promote brain rejuvenation as a means by which to combat age-related neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction.