D.H. Chen Professor II
Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences
Brain aging leads to cognitive decline and is the main risk factor for sporadic forms of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. While brain cell- and tissue-intrinsic factors are likely key determinants of the aging process recent studies document a remarkable susceptibility of the brain to circulatory factors. Thus, blood borne factors from young mice or humans are sufficient to slow aspects of brain aging and improve cognitive function in old mice and, vice versa, factors from old mice are detrimental for young mice and impair cognition. In trying to understand the molecular basis of these observations we found evidence that the cerebrovasculature is an important target and that brain endothelial cells show prominent age-related transcriptional changes in response to plasma. We discovered that plasma proteins are taken up broadyl into brain endothelial cells and that this process various greatly between individual cells and with aging. We are exploring the relevance of these findings for neurodegeneration and potential application towards therapies.
Tony Wyss-Coray is the D.H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. His lab studies brain aging and neurodegeneration with a focus on cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, following up on earlier discoveries, which showed circulatory blood factors can modulate brain structure and function and factors from young organisms can rejuvenate old brains. These findings were voted Breakthrough of the Year in 2014 by Science Magazine and presented at Global TED, the World Economic Forum, and Google Zeitgeist. Wyss-Coray is co-founder of Alkahest, recipient of the NIH Pioneer Award, the Zenith Award, NOMIS Foundation Award, and an inventor on multiple patents.