Brain cells protect muscles from wasting away

The head of a roundworm, C. elegans. The glia that regulate the stress response in the worm’s peripheral cells are highlighted. A mere four of these cells, known as CEPsh glial cells, protect the organism from age-related decline. Credit: Ashley Frakes, UC Berkeley

While many of us worry about proteins aggregating in our brains as we age and potentially causing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of neurodegeneration, we may not realize that some of the same proteins are aggregating in our muscles, setting us up for muscle atrophy in old age.

University of California, Berkeley, scientists have now found brain cells that help clean up these tangles and prolong life—at least in worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) and possibly mice. This could lead to drugs that improve muscle health or extend a healthy human lifespan.
The research team’s most recent discovery, published Jan. 24…

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