Important and Totally New Model For Aging
This study came out of left field. There are many models of aging, such as the oxidative stress theory, loss of telomeres, mitochondrial aging and stress.
Now, it seems, scientists have discovered that aged or “senescent” cells hanging around in healthy tissues can cause surrounding normal cells to slow down and prematurely age. Senescent cells start to accumulate and produce “age” proteins and other factors that basically make the healthy neighboring cells that surround them less functional.
It’s like a bad mob influence in the neighborhood, spoiling it for all the good guys!
This is not a model of aging I have heard before. But it is promising because animal studies showed that if we sweep away the aged cells, the animals lived longer and were far more energetic.
The study was conducted by Mayo Clinic scientists in Rochester, Minnesota, and published online Nov. 2 in the prestigious journal Nature.
After “deleting” senescent cells in mice genetically engineered to age quickly, tissues remained healthier and performed better. These tired old cells make up only 15% of cells in an elderly person. To eliminate them in the mice, the researchers focused a tracer on a gene called p16, which stops cells from dividing youthfully.
This gene does not express itself in youth but tends to become active in later years. Again, there is the question: does it become active because of aging or does aging occur because it becomes active?
Only time will tell.
In the present study, two sets of prematurely aged mice were followed. In one set, the researchers cleared senescent cells for the whole 15 months of the mice’s typical lifespan. In another set of mice, they waited until age-related problems were well underway and then cleared the senescent cells away for a few months.
The mice who had lifelong removal of their senescent cells kept age-related problems at bay, including cataracts and loss of muscle mass and strength. The other mice didn’t do so well (but still better than average).
When they blocked the senescent cell process in mice prone to premature aging, they blocked the development of spinal arthritis, the loss of muscle, thinning of skin — they were all reversed. Mice that should have looked prematurely aged were essentially normal.
This all could amount to an exciting breakthrough. It will be some time before the technique is used on humans (always assuming this will work on humans). But meantime, it’s another GREAT reason to take care of yourself and stay alive.
I tell you this over and over and the way to do it is to get my book “How to Live Beyond 100 Years”. Buy it, read it and do what it says.
Hang in there: DON’T DIE YET. Time may come when you can be “refreshed” by having your old cells cleaned out, giving you another 25- 50 years. Maybe more!
[SOURCE: Nov. 2, 2011, Nature, online]