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Companion animals: Key players in understanding ageing and Alzheimer’s

Aug 4, 2023

Companion animals, such as dogs and cats, can provide valuable insights into the ageing process and neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Unlike traditional model systems like mice, companion animals offer a unique perspective due to their shared environment and lifestyle with humans. By studying their behaviour, brain function, and genetic factors, scientists can uncover new therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s treatment.

June 2023 – Communications Biology


Key takeaways


  • Unique animal models: Traditional model systems like mice and nonhuman primates lack many of the biological characteristics of Alzheimer’s-like diseases observed in humans as they age. Companion animals, on the other hand, age in ways that resemble humans, making them more relevant for studying human diseases
  • Shared disease characteristics: Companion animals, including cats and dogs, show evidence of brain atrophy, plaques, tangles, and cognitive decline with age, similar to humans. They share many commonalities with humans and suffer from various diseases observed in humans, such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes
  • One health perspective: Adopting a One Health perspective, which recognises the interconnectedness of human and animal health, can enhance our understanding of non-transmissible diseases shared by humans and other species, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Comparative biology integration: Comparative biology, integrating insights from veterinary and human medical disciplines, can help solve long-standing problems in ageing research. Companion animals serve as valuable models to study the neurobiology of ageing and provide insights into Alzheimer’s disease
  • Promising therapeutic insights: By studying companion animals, researchers can expand their toolkit for understanding Alzheimer’s disease and ageing, potentially leading to the development of new therapeutic approaches and interventions

Read the article at: de Sousa, A.A., Rigby Dames, B.A., Graff, E.C. et al. Going beyond established model systems of Alzheimer’s disease: companion animals provide novel insights into the neurobiology of aging. Commun Biol 6, 655 (2023).