The results, published today in Nature, have far-reaching implications for how we understand the ageing process, and how we might develop much-needed treatments for age-related brain diseases.
As our bodies age, our muscles and joints can become stiff, making everyday movements more difficult. This study shows the same is true in our brains, and that age-related brain stiffening has a significant impact on the function of brain stem cells.
A multi-disciplinary research team, based at the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge, studied young and old rat brains to understand the impact of age-related brain stiffening on the function of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). These cells are a type of brain stem cell important for maintaining normal brain function, and for the regeneration of myelin – the fatty sheath that surrounds our nerves, which is damaged in multiple sclerosis (MS). The effects of age on these cells contributes to MS, but their function also declines with age in healthy people.
To determine whether the loss of function in aged OPCs was reversible, the researchers transplanted older OPCs from aged rats into the soft, spongy brains of younger animals. Remarkably, the older brain cells were rejuvenated, and began to behave like the younger, more vigorous cells.
To study this further, the researchers developed new materials in the lab with varying degrees of stiffness, and used these to grow and study the rat brain stem cells in a controlled environment. The materials were engineered to have a similar softness to either young or old brains.
To fully understand how brain softness and stiffness influences cell behavior, the researchers investigated Piezo1 – a protein found on the cell surface, which informs the cell whether the surrounding environment is soft or stiff.
Dr Kevin Chalut, who co-led the research, said: “We were fascinated to see that when we grew young, functioning rat brain stem cells on the stiff material, the cells became dysfunctional and lost their ability to regenerate, and in fact began to function like aged cells. What was especially interesting, however, was that when the old brain cells were grown on the soft material, they began to function like young cells – in other words, they were rejuvenated.”
“When we removed Piezo1 from the surface of aged brain stem cells, we were able to trick the cells into perceiving a soft surrounding environment, even when they were growing on the stiff material,” explained Professor Robin Franklin, who co-led the research with Dr Chalut. “What’s more, we were able to delete Piezo1 in the OPCs within the aged rat brains, which lead to the cells becoming rejuvenated and once again able to assume their normal regenerative function.”
Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at the MS Society, who part funded the research, said: “MS is relentless, painful, and disabling, and treatments that can slow and prevent the accumulation of disability over time are desperately needed. The Cambridge team’s discoveries on how brain stem cells age and how this process might be reversed have important implications for future treatment, because it gives us a new target to address issues associated with aging and MS, including how to potentially regain lost function in the brain.”
This research was supported by the European Research Council, MS Society, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, The Adelson Medical Research Foundation, Medical Research Council and Wellcome.
In a recent paper published by the researchers, it has been revealed that the functional regions that are present in the brain get less distinct and interconnected with the increase in age. This occurs mainly in the networks related to cognition and attention span. The study has been published in the Journal Of Neuroscience.
Juan Helen Zhou, an Associate Professor and a neuroscientist from Duke-NUS’ Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders program said that compared to various cross-sectional studies, it is very crucial to understand the changes in brain which take place both due to healthy and pathological aging so as to reduce the rate of cognitive aging.
The human brain has different segregated neuronal networks with very dense internal connections and less inter-connectivity. Aging is considered to be related to decreased functional specialization and separation of the brain networks.
Professor Michael Chee, Director of Duke-NUS’ Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience and Professor Zhou led a team of neuroscientists for this research. For the same purpose, neuropsychological assessments and functional MRI was performed on a group of 57 young adults and 72 healthy elderly Singaporeans. This accumulation of data for research was done over a span of 4 years where the participants were judged on the basis of various tasks like rate of information processing, how good can participants focus. They checked their ability to memorize verbal and visuospatial data along with planning and execution of tasks.
The accretion of those fMRI images was just one part of the research. Dr. Joanna Chong, the first author of the paper and a Ph.D. graduate under Associate Professor Zhou, was given the responsibility to convert the images into much appealing graphical representations helping them to analyze the intra- and inter-network joins in the brain for the individuals which comprised of adult along with elderly generation.
This analysis aided the team in understanding that there are some functions of brain such as goal-oriented thoughts and deciding where to focus attention which gets affected as one ages, since information transferring becomes less efficient and less distinctive.
We can be assured that this research study surely has some promising future applications since aging has been the reason for various neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases which are a concern for both Governments and healthcare departments. Thus, any sort of future work will facilitate in knowing the reasons for aging and will also help in deciphering the ways of preserving and curing it. Researchers have next plans to examine how factors such as genetic, cardiovascular risks, might influence the age-related changes in the brain networks.
June 23, 2019(updated July 10, 2019) Published by Sai Teja
I am sure that all of us think about aging at some point in time and also wish to be eternal in some situations. So, do you know that there are many studies going on to find out the reasons for aging and also to find ways to at least slowdown aging? Let us know about these studies and what they have found till now and let us try to answer the ultimate question Can we stop aging?
Although everyone is acquainted with aging, it is not so simple to define. The word “evolving” relates to the biological process of getting older in a toxic sense. In 1991, the book Evolutionary Biology of Aging provided the following definition of aging: a persistent decline in the age-specific fitness components of an organism due to internal physiological deterioration.
Let me tell you about aging in simple words, aging in one word is simply an error, aging is the accumulation of various errors in our body which slows us down and leads to malfunctions and diseases.
Let me tell you some fun facts about aging , all the creatures doesn’t age like we do. Some creatures doesn’t age at all. Crocodiles and aligators, for example doesn’t age at all. There also exists a jellyfish named Turritopsis dohrnii which can age in reverse way through a process called transdifferentiation and thus it is also called the “immortal jellyfish“
Why and how do we age?
Only a few wide, underlying concepts try to clarify why we and almost all living organisms age. These ideas clash with each other, rendering it impossible that more than one of them might be accurate and is also highly unlikely to be true.
Some ideas have gone out of approval as others have become more commonly recognized by a wide range of people.
Possible reasons why human beings age
Reduction in the number of cells: As we age, our functional tissues contract and are not replaced entirely. Engineered stem cells or neurons like exchanging components of a mechanical device could potentially substitute the old cells.
Special Enzyme called NAD+(nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide): NAD+ is an enzyme that tells our cells to take care of themselves. NAD+ decreases with our age and thus our cells get worn out and our cell mechanisms slow down. Low amounts of NAD+ can lead to a range of diseases.
Mitochondrial mutations: Mitochondria are small proteins and tiny structures present in our cells that turn the power and energy collected in our food into useful energy for all our bodies cells and neurons.
(Credit: Lab Test Online)
Mitochondria have their own genes controlling their body functions. As we age, mitochondrial functions decline and thus the so-called powerhouse of the cell slows down and affects all repair processes of the body. This happens due to somatic mutations in the DNA of mitochondria.
Antagonistic pleiotropy: It means that some genes that increase the odds of successful reproduction early in life may have deleterious effects later in life. Such a gene is P53. P53 prevents cancer in younger people but it would contribute to aging by preventing cell divisions in old people.
Senescent cells: We all know that our cells divide and copy the chromosomes. There are long strands of DNA called Telomeres at the ends of chromosomes that prevent small DNA losses. But after some number of divisions, these Telomeres are gone and this makes the cell a Senescent cell that doesn’t die. These cells grow in number with your age and leads to many diseases like diabetes etc.
Can we stop aging?
Aging is just a natural element of nature. Researchers and scientists have worked for centuries to unlock the key secrets behind what keeps us looking healthy and young. There have been some incredible breakthroughs in the sector of anti-aging technology.
As we learn new things about the human psyche and how the human body works under different conditions, we are now becoming even closer to let old age be a thing of the past. Let us see what all are the aging-related things where we have got good progress.
Possible ways to at least slow Aging
The stem cell technology:
Researchers at California’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies succeeded in reprogramming aging mice cells using artificial pluripotent stem cells in 2016.
These stem cells are produced from adult cells, which allowed researchers to reprogram skin cells into an embryonic state so as to make them active. Researchers discovered in their research that the mice whose cells were reprogrammed lived 30 times longer than the control group that was not reprogrammed. The use of induced or artificial pluripotent stem cells involves risks, and human trials are definitely a long way away, but the study provided some of the most interesting data on the use of stem cells in anti-aging efforts so far.
Repairing aging cells by targeting Mutant mtDNA:
CalTech and UCLA scientists found a technique of manipulating cell mitochondria to efficiently repair DNA in November 2016. Typically, cells comprise two kinds of mitochondrial DNA-ordinary mtDNA and mtDNA mutant. The research observed that cells age and eventually die due to the build-up of mutant mtDNA over the moment.
The research focused on whether autophagy or the method by which cells consume themselves could be used to target the mutant mtDNA and stop the aging process.
They succeeded in enhancing mitophagy activity in a fruit fly, noticing in their muscle cells a separate decrease in mutant mtDNA. If comparable methods can be used to repair damaged aged cells in humans, it would definitely lead to wonders.
Gene Obliteration process:
Researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing and the University of Washington disclosed in 2015 that they had managed to identify and delete genes that could prolong lives after ten years of studies. The scientists recognized 238 proteins that resulted in a rise in the longevity of 60 percent when deleted.
Many of the identified genes are also present in mammals, which means that the same process can be applied theoretically to humans. That being said, it took researchers 10 years to find and remove the genes responsible for yeast aging through a trial and error process. It may take a long time to replicate the outcomes in individuals, although the findings are still helpful.
Human beings have been attempting to attain immortality for a long time, or at least have been living for and beyond 100 years. Some individuals believe we’re getting nearer, and fresh study will surely reinforce that faith: scientists claim they’ve been able to reverse aging in human cells.
“We can make older cells younger,” said Dr. John Cooke, department chair of cardiovascular sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, lead author of the paper published in the American College of Cardiology Journal. Cooke’s group targeted patient cell telomeres, the caps at the ends of chromosomes whose size approximately matches and corresponds to age.
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Telomeres are the main focus of the anti-aging community. Cooke’s group accumulated cells with progeria from kids in fresh research, an unusual genetic condition that leads them to mature quickly.
Cooke’s group used RNA therapy technology that provides RNA straight to cells to drive cells into producing telomerase, a protein that lengthens telomeres. The method enhanced the longevity and operate of cells. Before that, cells would “grow very poorly and then die,” said Cooke. “Cells proliferated usually after the operation. It was a drastic enhancement.” Markers of aging have been modified, such as the discharge of inflammatory proteins.
Cells in a dish are, of course, distinct from living people breathing. Cooke thinks that while there is still plenty of studies to be undertaken, it is a hopeful indication that age-related disease can be combated with apps. “When we lengthen telomeres, a number of the issues connected with aging can be reversed,” he said in an accompanying interview.
In an experiment, the scientists from Harvard Medical School put a few drops of NAD+ into the mice’s water. Within hours, levels of NAD+ in their cells had risen significantly. Within a week, the tissues of the NAD+-fed mice had reversed to youthful levels. A human trial was conducted in November 2017, which showed similarly promising results. It needs a lot more testing.
Clearing Senescent Cells:
We have some proteins in every cell which tells our cells about when to die, but the senescent cells mentioned above doesn’t die due to lack of these proteins. Scientists have found that we can clear these cells in mice by supplying the proteins externally.
This could help us prevent the slowing down of internal functions due to senescent cells.
Aging is a natural process and there very limited ways that you can reduce the signs of aging. While you definitely can’t stop the aging process now, you can make decisions that improve your ability to move forward and maintain a healthy and active life, do things you can enjoy and spend time with your loved ones. Probably in the future, you could take a variety of therapies and live a longer life and even become immortal
June 17, 2019(updated June 28, 2019) Published by Sai Teja
Aging is one of the biggest question we still have. Aging in one word is an error, it is the accumulation of different errors in our body which slows down our system and makes it sluggish. Scientists have been researching extensively and have done many successful tests on animals. We have to wait and see whether we would be able to stop or atleast slow aging or not.
The above video describes three of the most important factors contributing to aging and tells us how can we cure stop these things. So. I hope that you get good knowledge about this topic by seeing the video.
I am sure that all of us think about aging at some point in time and also wish to be eternal in some situations. So, do you know that there are many studies going on to find out the reasons for aging and also to find ways to at least slowdown aging?
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