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The wonderful new world of telomerase in the brain and its possible implications for neurodegenerative diseases

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gabriele Saretzki



This is the final published version of a review published in its final definitive form in 2020. For re-use rights please refer to the publishers terms and conditions.


While telomerase is best known as the enzyme that maintains telomeres in dividing cells a number of TERT (Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase) -related non-canonical functions have been described. These functions are implicated in tumour development and stress response and recently have also been demonstrated in the brain. In contrast to other cells and tissues, in the brain the telomerase RNA component TERC is downregulated early during development resulting in the loss of telomerase activity in most cells except for neural stem cells. In contrast, the presence of the telomerase protein TERT persists during lifetime in neurons of the human brain. Although we are far from understanding the role of telomerase in the brain, the review aims to summarise our current knowledge. In addition to physiological functions in healthy neurons, there might be implications for neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Saretzki G

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Medical Research Archives

Year: 2020

Volume: 8

Issue: 7

Online publication date: 22/07/2020

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

ISSN (print): 2375-1916

ISSN (electronic): 2375-1924


DOI: 10.18103/mra.v8i7.2187