Increased gene dosage of Ink4/Arf and p53 delays age-associated central nervous system functional decline

The impairment of the activity of the brain is a major feature of aging, which coincides with a decrease in the function of neural stem cells. We have previously shown that an extra copy of regulated Ink4/Arf and p53 activity, in s-Ink4/Arf/p53 mice, elongates lifespan and delays aging. In this work, we examined the physiology of the s-Ink4/Arf/p53 brain with aging, focusing on the neural stem cell (NSC) population. We show that cells derived from old s-Ink4/Arf/p53 mice display enhanced neurosphere formation and self-renewal activity compared with wt controls. This correlates with augmented expression of Sox2, Sox9, Glast, Ascl1, and Ars2 NSC markers in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus (DG) niches. Furthermore, aged s-Ink4/Arf/p53 mice express higher levels of Doublecortin and PSA-NCAM (neuroblasts) and NeuN (neurons) in the olfactory bulbs (OB) and DG, indicating increased neurogenesis in vivo. Finally, aged s-Ink4/Arf/p53 mice present enhanced behavioral and neuromuscular coordination activity. Together, these findings demonstrate that increased but regulated Ink4/Arf and p53 activity ameliorates age-related deterioration of the central nervous system activity required to maintain the stem cell pool, providing a mechanism not only for the extended lifespan but also for the health span of these mice.