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Studying the effect of enzymes on an aging nervous system

August 5, 2014

Dr. Douglas Gray has published a study in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience that examines how the loss of a particular enzyme promotes age-related degeneration in the nervous system of the intestinal tract. Dr. Gray and his team looked at the enzyme ubiquitin carboxyterminal hydrolase 1 (UCHL1) in mice and found that a loss of function of UCHL1 generates profound degenerative changes in the enteric nervous system – a complex system that regulates intestinal secretions and contractions. The researchers deactivated the enzyme in mice and found that the loss of the enzyme markedly increased the rate of degeneration of this nervous system. The changes were similar to those observed in genetically normal mice of a much greater age, and strongly resemble changes reported for elderly humans. Dr. Gray hopes that his mice will eventually serve as a useful model of intestinal aging and the dysfunction that occurs with Parkinson's disease and other human disorders.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the university’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. OHRI includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

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