The 'fountain of youth' is hidden in the brain

The adventurous among us have been hunting for the fountain of youth since the dark ages. As it turns out, it just might exist, though not in Bimini or Florida, as we once thought. It exists in our brains. Specifically, the hypothalamus, because it is there, that resides a peculiar signaling pathway — one like no other that we have discovered to date.

This pathway has the power to slow down or speed up the aging process. No foolin'. It's already been proven to do so in mice. By messing with this pathway's ability to do its job (which just might be to age you faster than you would without it) researchers have extended the lives of lab mice by 20 percent. And these mice didn't just live longer. They lived younger. They remained youthful and vibrant longer than a mouse has any warrant to.

From a scientific point of view, it all comes down to the blocking of a particular protein complex named NF-κB (short for "nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells"). NF-κB, when activated, speeds up aging by blocking the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). By injecting the brain with GnRH and simultaneously blocking NF-κB, scientists have effectively struck a two-punch combo against aging and death itself. Even mental aging showed signs of slowing down.

What's more, this might only be the tip of the iceberg. The team of scientists, based out of Johns Hopkins University, who discovered this scientific "fountain of youth" doesn't quite yet have a handle on exactly how NF-κB and GnRH do what they do and whether or not this applies to humans. Theoretically, they surmise, further understanding of the process could eventually lead to reversing the cellular aging process, leaving your cells as healthy as they were the day you were born. Now that's a fountain of youth we can get behind.

LiveScience, via Gizmodo

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