A study in wild primates links the importance of the social environment to molecular markers of age in the brain.
Thanks to the new technologies available, scientists can begin to discover the mysterious link between the dynamics of the social environment and molecular changes in the brain. As we age, maintaining close ties with friends and family has been identified as one of the key ingredients to healthy aging. While some decline in health, mind and body is inevitable, studies have shown that a supportive social environment can help prevent some major stressors and slow the pace of aging.
Females with higher social status had younger and more resilient molecular profiles in a population of macaque monkeys , providing a key link between social environment and brain health, a new study has shown. The group studied is a population of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) that have lived in freedom since 1938 on the isolated island of Cayo Santiago, in Puerto Rico.
To establish the connections between social status and the inner workings of the brain, the team undertook two complementary studies: 1) generate comprehensive gene expression datasets from 15 different brain regions, and 2) focus on detailed analysis of all is within a single brain region , the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with memory, planning, and decision-making.
Rhesus macaques were chosen because they show some of the same age-related changes we see in humans, including declines in bone density and muscle mass, immune system changes, and general impairment in behavioral function. , sensory and cognitive,” said Noah Snyder-Mackler, one of the authors. The explanation may be that the chronic stress of social adversity, for example, accelerates aging by promoting chronic inflammation from a weakened immune system.
After analyzing the collected data, they found gene expression was characterized by younger molecular profiles in high-ranking females , suggesting that associations between higher rank and younger brain age are specific to females with higher social status. tall. High social status can confer several benefits, including greater access to resources, more predictable environments, and less harassment from group mates.
“Our findings provide some of the first evidence for molecular parallels between aging and social adversity in the brain, providing a key mechanism linking adverse (or conversely, beneficial) environments and earlier onset and more rapid progression. of brain decline and age-related diseases. Collectively, our findings provide a rich molecular resource cataloging age-associated changes in the brain and we hope they will provide new insights into how we can all live longer,” concluded Snyder-Mackler.
- Multiregion transcriptomic profiling of the primate brain reveals signatures of aging and the social environment. (nature.com)