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Vitam Horm. 2016;101:215-38. doi: 10.1016/bs.vh.2016.02.004. Epub 2016 Mar 22.

Klotho Is a Neuroprotective and Cognition-Enhancing Protein.

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Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States. Electronic address:
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States.


In this chapter, we will describe what has been learned about Klotho and its potential functions in the brain. Klotho is localized in the choroid plexus and, to a lesser extent, in hippocampal neurons. Cognitive decline is a common issue in human aging affecting over 50% of the population. This cognitive decline can also be seen in animal models such as the Rhesus monkey. A long-term study undertaken by our lab demonstrated that normal brain aging in rhesus monkeys and other animal models is associated with a significant downregulation of Klotho expression. This observation substantiates data from other laboratories that have reported that loss of Klotho accelerates the development of aging-like phenotypes, including cognitive deficits, whereas Klotho overexpression extends life span and enhances cognition in mice and humans. Klotho is a type 1 transmembrane pleiotropic protein predominantly expressed in kidney and brain and shed by ADAM 10 and 17 into the blood and cerebral spinal fluid, respectively. While the renal functions of Klotho are well known, its roles in the brain remain to be fully elucidated. We recently demonstrated that Klotho protects hippocampal neurons from amyloid and glutamate toxicity via the activation of an antioxidant enzymatic system suggesting Klotho is a neuroprotective protein. Furthermore, Klotho is necessary for oligodendrocyte maturation and myelin integrity. Through its diverse roles in the brain, Klotho has become a new therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and demyelinating diseases like multiple sclerosis. Discovery of small molecule Klotho enhancers may lead to novel treatments for these incurable disorders.


Alzheimer's disease; Hippocampus; Multiple sclerosis; Myelin; Oxidative stress

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