Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that stem cells in the brain’s hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. The finding, made in mice, could lead to new strategies for warding off age-related diseases and extending lifespan.
The paper was published online today in Nature.
The hypothalamus was known to regulate important processes including growth, development, reproduction and metabolism. In a 2013 Nature paper, Einstein researchers made the surprising finding that the hypothalamus also regulates aging throughout the body. Now, the scientists have pinpointed the cells in the hypothalamus that control aging: a tiny population of adult neural stem cells, which were known to be responsible for forming new brain neurons.
“Our research shows that the number of hypothalamic neural stem cells naturally declines over the life of the animal, and this decline accelerates aging,” says senior author Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular pharmacology at Einstein. “But we also found that the effects of this loss are not irreversible. By replenishing these stem cells or the molecules they produce, it’s possible to slow and even reverse various aspects of aging throughout the body.”
In studying whether stem cells in the hypothalamus held the key to aging, the researchers first looked at the fate of those cells as healthy mice got older. The number of hypothalamic stem cells began to diminish when the animals reached about 10 months, which is several months before the usual signs of aging start appearing. “By old age—about two years of age in mice—most of those cells were gone,” says Dr. Cai.
The researchers next wanted to learn whether this progressive loss of stem cells was actually causing aging and was not just associated with it. So they observed what happened when they selectively disrupted the hypothalamic stem cells in middle-aged mice. “This disruption greatly accelerated aging compared with control mice, and those animals with disrupted stem cells died earlier than normal,” says Dr. Cai.
“Our research shows that the number of hypothalamic neural stem cells naturally declines over the life of the animal, and this decline accelerates aging, but we also found that the effects of this loss are not irreversible.”
– Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D.
Could adding stem cells to the hypothalamus counteract aging? To answer that question, the researchers injected hypothalamic stem cells into the brains of middle-aged mice whose stem cells had been destroyed as well as into the brains of normal old mice. In both groups of animals, the treatment slowed or reversed various measures of aging.
Dr. Cai and his colleagues found that the hypothalamic stem cells appear to exert their anti-aging effects by releasing molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs). They are not involved in protein synthesis but instead play key roles in regulating gene expression. miRNAs are packaged inside tiny particles called exosomes, which hypothalamic stem cells release into the cerebrospinal fluid of mice.
The researchers extracted miRNA-containing exosomes from hypothalamic stem cells and injected them into the cerebrospinal fluid of two groups of mice: middle-aged mice whose hypothalamic stem cells had been destroyed and normal middle-aged mice. This treatment significantly slowed aging in both groups of animals as measured by tissue analysis and behavioral testing that involved assessing changes in the animals’ muscle endurance, coordination, social behavior and cognitive ability.
The researchers are now trying to identify the particular populations of microRNAs and perhaps other factors secreted by these stem cells that are responsible for these anti-aging effects—a first step toward possibly slowing the aging process and treating age-related diseases.
Learn more: Brain Cells Found to Control Aging
The Latest on: Slowing the aging process
- This Anti Aging Supplement Is Formulated To Slow Age-Related Cellular Declineon February 26, 2021 at 11:45 am
Founded by Dr. Leo Guarente, director of the Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at MIT, Elysium Health has a scientific advisory board that includes eight Nobel Laureates. Their mission is to ...
- For breakthroughs in slowing aging, scientists must look beyond biologyon February 22, 2021 at 1:42 pm
A trio of recent studies highlight the need to incorporate behavioral and social science alongside the study of biological mechanisms in order to slow aging.
- Can Gut Parasites Slow the Aging Process?on February 11, 2021 at 7:57 am
Feb. 9, 2021 -- The idea of hookworms may gross you out, but that kind of gut parasite may help people ward off inflammation and other illnesses that accompany aging, a new study says. Perhaps ...
- Everyone Wants to Slow the Aging Process: Scientists May Have the Answeron February 10, 2021 at 11:10 am
Could humanity be one step closer to slowing brain aging? News to Know for Feb. 26: FDA confirms J&J vaccine effective; In-person learning bill; Cooler day with light rain Like us on Facebook to ...
- Slow Aging from the Inside Out: The Anti-Inflammatory Dieton February 3, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Upon further investigation, I found that inflammation might be accelerating my body's aging process more than I even knew! I consulted a doctor and a nutritionist to find out more: What is ...
- These Are Some of the Best Anti Aging Skincare Products You Can Buy Onlineon February 2, 2021 at 11:33 am
It's natural, but while we can't turn back the clock, there are preventive actions you can make to slow down the skin's aging process. How Can You Slow Down Skin Aging? While there's nothing wrong ...
- How New U Life is Slowing Down The Aging Process (and Why People Are Taking Notice)on February 2, 2021 at 11:12 am
Aging affects everyone eventually, but how you react to the steady march of time makes all the difference in the world.
- Studies on aging may help to slow it downon January 27, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Both zero in on mechanisms prone to break down as we age – in other words, targets for therapies that could disrupt or delay the aging process ... drugs that could slow biological aging ...
- Omega-3 Supplements May Slow A Biological Effect of Agingon March 18, 2019 at 12:25 pm
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Taking enough omega-3 fatty acid supplements to change the balance of oils in the diet could slow a key biological process linked to aging, new research suggests. The study showed ...
via Google News and Bing News