Transcriptomic alterations in the aged brain with and without dietary and dietary- mimetic manipulations
AdvisorM. Adams, Michelle
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Aside from many genetic and environmental influences on the brain, aging itself is a significant risk factor for accelerated cognitive decline, making aging research crucial due to the increasing population age in our era. We aimed to discover gene expression differences in the aging zebrafish brain using three age groups in the first aim. We identified gjc2 (CX47) and alcamb (ALCAM) cell adhesion genes showing consistent downregulation with age across all experiments. ALCAM is also known to be associated with neuroinflammation, which has been implicated to be lowered using anti-aging, non-genetic nutrient interventions. In the second aim, we applied 12 weeks of two opposing nutrient interventions, caloric restriction (CR) and overfeeding (OF) in aging zebrafish, in order to be able to propose a reliable therapeutic approach for reversing age-related neurobiological changes. We measured protein and expression level differences of selected genes related to proliferation to inflammation with these diets. The results showed that sox2 gene expression was significantly upregulated following OF treatment than CR diet, and myca and tp53 mRNA levels were significantly downregulated with advanced age. Alcamb and tfdp1 expression levels were also marginally significantly lowered with CR compared to other groups. Meanwhile, we also conducted another transcriptomic approach using microarray to assess gene expression differences with CR compared to Ad-libitum (AL) feeding. Thus, lastly, in the third part, we found that CR causes changes in cell cycle regulation among several other functional regulatory pathways in zebrafish brains. We identified the tfdp1 gene, which showed downregulation with CR, as a possible CR regulator. Then, to create a CR mimic, we performed morpholino oligo (MO) injections to zebrafish embryos and adult brains to knock down tfdp1 gene expression levels. The injections were not successful in altering Tfdp1 protein levels in neither embryos and adults. However, 8ng tfdp1-MO injections in embryos significantly increased myca and tp53 expression levels, which are among the downstream targets of tfdp1. Our examinations shed light on healthy brain aging and possibly propose new drug targets.