, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 129-139
Date: 15 Jun 2013

Heterozygous knockout of the Bmi-1 gene causes an early onset of phenotypes associated with brain aging

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Previous studies reported that the polycomb group gene Bmi-1 is downregulated in the aging brain. The aim of this study was to investigate whether decreased Bmi-1 expression accelerates brain aging by analyzing the brain phenotype of adult Bmi-1 heterozygous knockout (Bmi-1+/−) mice. An 8-month-old Bmi-1+/− brains demonstrated mild oxidative stress, revealed by significant increases in hydroxy radical and nitrotyrosine, and nonsignificant increases in reactive oxygen species and malonaldehyde compared with the wild-type littermates. Bmi-1+/− hippocampus had high apoptotic percentage and lipofuscin deposition in pyramidal neurons associated with upregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p19, p27, and p53 and downregulation of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. Mild activation of astrocytes was also observed in Bmi-1+/− hippocampus. Furthermore, Bmi-1+/− mice showed mild spatial memory impairment in the Morris Water Maze test. These results demonstrate that heterozygous Bmi-1 gene knockout causes an early onset of age-related brain changes, suggesting that Bmi-1 has a role in regulating brain aging.