Having the “Smart Gene” is related to longevity and increased brain function
A recent study has found that a certain variation of the gene that helps you live longer has even more benefits: increased memory, great learning, decision-making and planning abilities. Having that gene is also associated with a bigger forebrain (prefrontal cortex). One in five people have that gene in their bodies. Now you must be wondering if you do as well.
Have you ever heard of the Klotho gene or Klotho protein? Well, now you have and you will be amazed of their incredible “superpowers” that we are going to talk about.
The Klotho gene’s function is to send signals to the brain and kidneys to create Klotho protein. It is in charge of different body functions.
Dena Dubal, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor of neurology at UCSF. Her team of researchers and her found that people who have a single copy of the KL-VS variant of the Klotho gene, produce more klotho protein than people whose bodies don’t carry that gene.
Around 20% of all the people around the world are KL-VS carriers. It has been found that middle-aged and elderly people who carry the gene score better results when given cognitive tests. Also, people who have this variation of the Klotho gene show a tendency to live longer and to be protected from some diseases.
What is more, carrying this gene is linked to smartness and increased brain function. Dubal and her team of the UCSF carried a research where they had to scan the participants’ brains in order to see if the sizes of the brains’ areas are connected to carrying one, two or no copies of the gene variation. The 422 participants in the study were men and women above the age of 53. The results showed that there is a link between the gene and the size of a particular brain area called the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC). This part of the brain is known to be considerably vulnerable to aging. It is possible that older people’s difficulties to do more activities at once and to concentrate are linked to the aging and shrinking of that particular area. The study showed that the brains of the people who carry one copy of the gene had bigger right dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes compared to the other participants with two or none copies of the gene.
This study is a step forward to protecting people from some of the diseases connected to memory-loss and dementia. It has been known that with age people’s cognitive abilities tend to decrease, but realizing the effects of Klotho on the human brain and body gives researchers hope for predicting brain health and finding cures for some of the worst diseases like Alzheimer’s and others related to cognitive decline.