Telomerase protect post-mitotic cells too

Lou Pagnucco pagnucco at oeonline.com
Tue Jun 13 22:20:20 EST 2000

The following interesting item is from

If correct, telomerase does not merely extend the proliferative potential
of mitotically active cells, but also lengthens the lifespan of postmitotic
cells like neurons by making them more resistant to programmed cell
death.  Hopefully, this finding will be confirmed for nerve cells and other
postmitotic cells such as muscle cells.

Lou Pagnucco

                      Telomerase May Protect Nerve
                      Cells from Brain Disorders

                      6/12/2000  The telomerase plot thickens.
                      The enzyme, believed to determine
                      cellular lifespan and perhaps maintain
                      cancer cells, now may protect nerve cells
                      against decreased function and
                      premature death caused by Alzheimer's
                      and other age-related neurological
                      disorders. That’s the latest research from
                      Mark Mattson, chief of the Laboratory of
                      Neurosciences at the National Institute
                      on Aging (NIA).

                      In experiments designed to mimic
                      conditions in neurologically impaired
                      brains, Mattson and his colleagues at the
                      NIA and the University of Kentucky
                      Medical Center found that nerve cells
                      with low levels of telomerase were
                      particularly vulnerable to being killed by
                      amyloid peptide, a toxic protein that
                      accumulates in the brains of people with
                      Alzheimer's disease. In contrast, nerve
                      cells with high levels of telomerase
                      displayed a remarkable resistance to
                      being damaged or killed in experimental
                      models of Alzheimer's disease or stroke.
                      The researchers have found that
                      telomerase blocks a biochemical
                      cascade of reactions called apoptosis,
                      which causes nerve cells to self-destruct.
                      Accumulating evidence implicates the
                      process of apoptosis in the death of
                      nerve cells that occurs in Alzheimer's
                      disease, Parkinson's disease and stroke.

                      If scientists can develop methods to
                      stimulate the production of telomerase in
                      nerve cells, Mattson said, it might help
                      fend off age-related neurological

                      This research appeared in the June 2,
                      2000 issue of the Journal of Molecular
                      Neuroscience. Further details on will be
                      published in the July issue of the Journal
                      of Neurochemistry, which will be available
                      after June 15.

                      For more information: Mark Mattson,
                      Director, Laboratory of Neurosciences,
                      National Institute on Aging. Tel:
                      410-558-8463. Email:
                      mattsonm at grc.nia.nih.gov.

                           Edited by Angelo DePalma

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