A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds many of us unknowingly have abnormalities such as mini-strokes in our brains.
Methods The subjects were 2000 persons (mean age, 63.3 years; range, 45.7 to 96.7) from the population-based Rotterdam Study in whom high-resolution, structural brain MRI (1.5 T) was performed according to a standardized protocol. Two trained reviewers recorded all brain abnormalities, including asymptomatic brain infarcts. The volume of white-matter lesions was quantified in milliliters with the use of automated postprocessing techniques. Two experienced neuroradiologists reviewed all incidental findings. All diagnoses were based on MRI findings, and additional histologic confirmation was not obtained.
Results Asymptomatic brain infarcts were present in 145 persons (7.2%). Among findings other than infarcts, cerebral aneurysms (1.8%) and benign primary tumors (1.6%), mainly meningiomas, were the most frequent. The prevalence of asymptomatic brain infarcts and meningiomas increased with age, as did the volume of white-matter lesions, whereas aneurysms showed no age-related increase in prevalence.
An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. A brain infarct is a stroke where blood got cut off to some part of the brain. Basically, a lot of people are walking around with small strokes in their brains without knowing it. Others have circulatory problems that might eventually cause damage.
Regarding benign tumors: Harvard Medical School researcher Judah Folkman, the pioneer in the use of anti-angiogenesis drugs (which block blood vessel growth) to stop cancer, includes slides in his lectures of cross sections of organs of adult humans stained to show tumors. Well, we have lots of little tumors which are stuck at small size because the tumors haven't yet mutated to secrete lots of angiogenesis compounds. So the tumors can't grow the blood vessels needed to fuel their growth and they get stuck at small sizes. Well, that's what these benign brain tumors probably are.
What this report illustrates is how much our brains decay as we get older. If you feel at peace with your aging keep in mind that you are losing brain cells and some of the remaining brain cells that aren't dying are at least becoming senescent or damaged.
Stem cell and gene therapies to rejuvenate our blood vessels will some day prevent and reverse the brain circulatory system decay. The sooner these therapies come the less of your brain you'll have to lose while waiting. So support accelerated development of rejuvenation therapies.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2007 October 31 08:42 PM Brain Aging|