Scientists at Mayo Clinic and colleagues have been able to demonstrate in mice that obesity increases the number of "zombie" cells or senescent cells in the brain and that these cells, in turn, are linked to anxiety. By using senolytic drugs to cleanse these cells, the anxious behavior of the mice dissipates. The results are published in Cell Metabolism.
Senescent cells are exactly what the word "zombie" defines, that is, semi-dormant cells that settle in a particular area of the body and, in doing so, prevent other functions. Studies show that these cells contribute to aging in aspects ranging from osteoporosis to diabetes and muscle weakness. In this particular case, scientists knew that obesity, both in humans and in mice, was related to increased anxiety and other emotional problems, but they did not know the details of the relationship.
Researchers at the Center for Aging Robert and Arlene Kogod of the Mayo Clinic, University of Newcastle and other institutions have determined that the normal and genetically engineered mice in the study had more adipose cells in the brain region responsible for disease control. anxiety and showed a large increase of senescent cells in this area. By cleaning the cells with senolytic drugs in two model mice, the anxious behavior ended, the lipid cells disappeared in the brain and there was neurogenesis, that is, the normal growth of the neurological cells was resumed.
How can you know that a mouse has anxiety? For this, the scientists used several scientifically validated tests. The anxious mouse tends to avoid the open areas of the environment and usually moves only through the outer walls or corners of the confined space in which it is located. Anxious mice also behave differently in mazes, with poor performance, doubts, and often do not complete the test. After removing the "zombie" cells, the mice performed much better, although they were still obese.
"Our data demonstrate a link between obesity, senescence and anxious behavior, which provides the fundamental support for the possible feasibility of, since clinical trials validate this method, administering senoliths for the treatment of related anxiety behavior to obesity. "
They say more preclinical studies are needed, as well as determining what type of senescent cells are the cause and defining the mechanism of action more widely.
Source: Mayo Clinic