Age-associated cognitive decline is an inevitable phenomenon that predisposes individuals for neurological and psychiatric disorders eventually affecting the quality of life. Scientists have endeavored to identify the key molecular switches that drive cognitive decline with advancing age. These newly identified molecules are then targeted as recovery of cognitive aging and related disorders. Cognitive decline during aging is multi-factorial and amongst several factors influencing this trajectory, gene expression changes are pivotal. Identifying these genes would elucidate the neurobiological underpinnings as well as offer clues that make certain individuals resilient to withstand the inevitable age-related deteriorations. Our laboratory has focused on this aspect and investigated a wide spectrum of genes involved in crucial brain functions that attribute to senescence induced cognitive deficits. We have recently identified master switches in the epigenome regulating gene expression alteration during brain aging. Interestingly, these factors when manipulated by chemical or genetic strategies successfully reverse the age-related cognitive impairments. In the present article, we review findings from our laboratory and others combined with supporting literary evidences on molecular switches of brain aging and their potential as recovery targets.
Figure 1. Gene expression changes and master switch driving age related cognitive decline Brain aging accompanies alteration in expression (red circles represent downregulation; blue circles represent upregulation) of genes belonging to multiple pathways. Epigenetic modifications particularly decrease in DNMT1 and increase in HDAC2 level might be the master regulators and accordingly epigenetic modifiers might prove ideal therapeutic targets.
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