In this review, we consider the evidence that a reduction in neurogenesis underlies aging-related cognitive deficits and impairments in disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). The molecular and cellular alterations associated with impaired neurogenesis in the aging brain are discussed. Dysfunction of presenilin-1, misprocessing of amyloid precursor protein and toxic effects of hyperphosphorylated tau and β-amyloid probably contribute to impaired neurogenesis in AD. Because factors such as exercise, environmental enrichment and dietary energy restriction enhance neurogenesis, and protect against age-related cognitive decline and AD, knowledge of the underlying neurogenic signaling pathways could lead to novel therapeutic strategies for preserving brain function. In addition, manipulation of endogenous neural stem cells and stem cell transplantation, as stand-alone or adjunct treatments, seems promising.
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