Stem Cells Reverse Aging

University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA) scientists improved the lifespan of mice with an aging disease (progeria) by injecting them with normal stem cells, prolonging their lifespan by two to three times.  Importantly, the stem cells, which were derived from the muscle of young, healthy rodents, did not migrate to other tissue in the body and appear to have secreted a growth factor, or protein, that delayed the aging process. Instead of losing muscle mass and moving slowly, the animals grew as large as normal ones.  Writing that: “These results establish that adult stem/progenitor cell dysfunction contributes to ageing-related degeneration and suggests a therapeutic potential of post-natal stem cells to extend health,” the study authors are hopeful the animal research can be translated to human application.

Mitra Lavasani, Andria R. Robinson, Aiping Lu, Minjung Song, Laura J. Niedernhofer, Johnny Huard, et al.  “Muscle-derived stem/progenitor cell dysfunction limits healthspan and lifespan in a murine progeria model.” Nature Communications 3, 3 January 2012

Immune Markers Characterize Exceptional Health in Aging

Exceptional cognitive and physical function in old age leaves a tell-tale immunologic fingerprint, and conversely – older adults who have mild impairments bear a distinct immunologic pattern as well. Abbe N. de Vallejo, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (Pennsylvania, USA), and colleagues collected blood samples from 140 subjects, ages 78 to 94 years, enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study for nearly two decades. The team also gathered information about the participants' health and function, medical history and hospitalizations, and self-rated health, and assessed their cognitive and physical function using standard tests. Those participants who were most physically and cognitively resilient had a dominant pattern of stimulatory NK receptors on the T-cell surface, and these unusual T-cells could be activated directly through these NK receptors independently of the conventional ones. The functionally resilient elders also were observed to have a distinct profile of blood proteins called cytokines that reflect an immune-enhancing environment.  Conversely, the researchers showed mild health impairment had a dominant pattern of inhibitory NK receptors on their T-cells, and they have a cytokine profile indicating a pro-inflammatory environment.  Writing that: “Collectively, these data demonstrate the importance of immunological parameters in distinguishing between health phenotypes of older adults,” the team submits that their findings suggest “novel immunopathway(s) that could be exploited to improve immunity in old age.”

Abbe N. Vallejo, David L. Hamel, Robert G. Mueller, Diane G. Ives, Joshua J. Michel, Robert M. Boudreau, Anne B. Newman. “NK-Like T Cells and Plasma Cytokines, but Not Anti-Viral Serology, Define Immune Fingerprints of Resilience and Mild Disability in Exceptional Aging.”  PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (10): e26558; 20 Oct 2011.

First Genetic Variant Linked to Biological Aging in Humans Is Identified

For the first time, a team of scientists has identified definitive genetic variants associated with biological aging in humans. Tim Spector, from King’s College London (United Kingdom), and colleagues from the University of Leicester (United Kingdom) and University of Groningen (The Netherlands) studied telomeres, the endcaps on chromosomes and the shortening of which is considered a marker of biological aging.  The researchers found that those individuals carrying a particular genetic variant had shorter telomeres – they looked biologically older. The variants identified lies near a gene called TERC, which has been previously posited as a contributor in the maintenance of telomere length. The team postulates that some people are genetically programmed to age at a faster rate. They noted the effect to be quite considerable in those with the variant, equivalent to between 3-4 years of 'biological aging" as measured by telomere length loss. Alternatively, the researchers speculate that genetically susceptible people may age even faster when exposed to proven 'bad' environments for telomeres like smoking, obesity or lack of exercise – and end up several years biologically older or succumbing to more age-related diseases.

Veryan Codd, Massimo Mangino, Pim van der Harst, Peter S Braund, Michael Kaiser, Alan J Beveridge, Suzanne Rafelt, Jasbir Moore, Chris Nelson, Nicole Soranzo, et al. “Common variants near TERC are associated with mean telomere length.”  Nature Genetics, 7 February 2010; doi:10.1038/ng.532

Dr. Robert Goldman, Chairman 
The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine addresses the question: 
Can you really turn back the clock on aging?

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William "Chip" Stanberry, CEO for SpectraCell Labs, talks about telomere testing as a biomarker of aging.

Dr. Ronald Klatz, President
The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
discusses the Longevity Dividend:
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