Signs of Aging Could be Warded Off with New Compound
December 26, 2013 1:38 PM
Communication between the cell's nucleus and mitochondria is key
A new study shows that communication between a cell's nucleus and mitochondria is essential in warding off the negatives that
come with aging
, such as disease.
, helping to rebuild the broken communication between the nucleus and mitochondria has proven to reverse signs of aging in mammals (more specifically, mice). The study was led by Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics David Sinclair and Ana Gomes, a postdoctoral scientist in the Sinclair lab.
The initial problem is that mitochondria (a cell's powerhouse that creates chemical energy) become increasingly dysfunctional over time leading to diseases like diabetes. The self-contained mitochondria, which have their own small genomes, have been linked to aging before.
Up until now, it was believed that aging can't be reversed because mutations in mitochondrial DNA cause age-related illnesses like Alzheimer's disease, and mutations can't be undone.
But the latest study focused on an important group of genes genes called sirtuins, and one of these genes -- SIRT1 -- is activated by a compound called resveratrol. When SIRT1 was removed, the mice certainly showed signs of aging, but the team was surprised to find that most mitochondrial proteins coming from the cell's nucleus remained at normal levels. Only those from the mitochondrial genome had decreased.
They saw that communication between the two was broken and accelerating age-related illnesses as a result. To correct it, they focused on a chemical called NAD, which keeps SIRT1 in check. SIRT1s job is to keep a molecule called HIF-1 away, which messes with communication between the nucleus and mitochondria. So if SIRT1 doesn't have enough NAD, it loses its ability to keep HIF-1 away and it destroys communication.
Without this communication, cell is unable to create energy and signs of aging occur.
The research team then used an endogenous compound that cells transform into NAD on two-year-old mice. After just one week, their tissue looked like that of six-month-old mice.
This repaired the broken communication and restored communication and mitochondrial function. The study states that giving this compound early enough (before excessive mutation accumulation) some aging could be reversed. It could also open up some doors and answer questions as to why cancer risk increases with age.
This isn't the first time Harvard researchers have worked on
age reversal techniques
. In 2010, Ronald DePinho, leader of the study and a scientist at Harvard Medical School, along with a group of Harvard researchers, discovered that an anti-aging therapy called telomere shortening has the potential to eliminate age-related issues like dementia and heart disease by rejuvenating old, worn out organs.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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