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Turning back time: ageing reversed in mice

RATE THIS! +53
Posted in Science on 20th Dec, 2013 01:39 AM by AlexMuller

Imagine if we could turn back time. A team that has identified a new way in which cells age has also reversed the process in old mice whose bodies appear younger in several ways. The discovery has implications for understanding age-related diseases including cancers, neurodegenerative disorders and diabetes.

 
One way all mammalian cells produce energy is via aerobic respiration, in which large molecules are broken down into smaller ones, releasing energy in the process. This mainly occurs in the mitochondria – the "powerhouses" of cells. Mitochondria carry their own genomes, but some of the cellular components needed for respiration are produced partly by the nucleus, so the two must coordinate their activities.
 
As we age, mitochondrial function declines, which can lead to conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. To investigate why this decline occurs, Ana Gomes at Harvard Medical School and her colleagues compared the levels of messenger RNA (mRNA), molecules that convey genetic information around a cell, for the cellular components needed for respiration in the skeletal muscle of 6 and 22-month-old mice.
 
They found that the level of the mRNA in the nucleus did not change much between the young and old mice, whereas those in the mitochondria appeared to decline with age.
 
Similar changes were seen in mice that lacked a protein called SIRT1, high levels of which are associated with calorie restriction and an increased lifespan. These mice also had higher levels of a protein produced by the nucleus called hypoxia inducible factor (HIF-1α).
 
What was going on? It appears that communication between the nucleus and the mitochondria depends on a cascade of events involving HIF-1α and SIRT1. As long as SIRT1 levels remain high and the two genomes communicate well, ageing is kept at bay. But another molecule called NAD+ keeps SIRT1 on the job; crucially, the amount of NAD+ present in the cell declines with age, though no one knows why, leading to a breakdown in communication.

Tags: ageingmiceregenerative medicinegenomemRNAmitochondriacancerneurodegenerative disordersdiabetes

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+2
Indeed what is needed to make progress in understanding ageing and related diseases is more basic research that will have big impact as this one here- great work
5 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+2
This is of great importance. In their study they indentified an entirely new mechanism of ageing and then reversed it. Fascinating!
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
What they saw in these animals was not a slowing down or stabilisation of the ageing process. They found a dramatic reversal – and that was unexpected Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+1
I agree. The key question is what might this mean for human therapies against age-related diseases? Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
Despite this I think that human therapies ere a distant prospect. In any case from what we know so far it is unlikely that the pill will have to be taken from 20 years until we die. It seems we can start when we're already old, but not too that that we're already damaged.
Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+2
I share with many scientists the view that this is an exciting finding. We considered ageing as a one-way street, but now researchers at Harvard Medical School have shown that some aspects can be reversed. Big change in our thinking about ageing

2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
it is interesting that none of Harvard's mice developed cancer after the treatment. The next step is to investigate whether the treatment extends the lifespan of mice or enables them to live healthier lives into old age.
3 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
They used a chemical to rejuvenate muscle in mice and said it was the equivalent of transforming a 60-year-old's muscle to that of a 20-year-old - but note carefully that muscle strength did not improve. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
They show enough improvement. One week of youth-medication in two-year-old mice meant their muscles became akin to those of a six-month-old in terms of mitochondrial function, muscle wastage, inflammation and insulin resistance. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
It is known that the brake-down in cell communication they show here also breaks down in diseases such as dementia, cancer and type-two diabetes. This research focused on muscles, but it could benefit multiple organs and delay and prevent a lot of these diseases occurring. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
It is important to note that this could never be a cure-all for ageing. They focused on some, specific aspects. Other aspects such as shortening of telomeres or damage to DNA would not be reversed. So careful.... Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+1
It remains important to continue research. The ageing process is poorly understood, but scientists know it is caused by many factors. Highly reactive particles called free radicals are made naturally in the body and cause damage to cells, while smoking, ultraviolet light and other environmental factors contribute to ageing. We need to understand better these different causes Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
Lifestyle should stay in focus. Some time ago we had a study that showed that just pottering around the garden or fixing up the house has been linked to a longer life in people over the age of 60.
3 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+1
The message I take from this study is simple. If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, be more active. Don't sit down for long periods; get up on your feet and do something you enjoy that involves moving around Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
A generally active daily life had important beneficial associations with cardiovascular health and longevity in older adults, which seemed to be regardless of regular exercise Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-20
+0
We know that being physically active is important in maintaining good health. But, as this study demonstrates, you don't need a gym membership to do that. Reply
Reply


 

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