13 June 2012

It was possible to age the mice. Will it be possible to rejuvenate?

Biologists artificially aged a mouse by activating the genes of old age

RIA NewsAmerican, Japanese and British biologists discovered a special mechanism in the mouse genome, the inclusion of which led to the transformation of healthy muscles of a young rodent into flabby senile muscles, and published the results of their experiments in an article in the journal Cell (Naito et al., Complement C1q Activates Canonical Wnt Signaling and Promotes Aging-Related Phenotypes – VM).

The genome of humans and other animals contains a huge number of "instructions" that control the work of the body during growth, normal life and aging. It is believed that the study of genetic mechanisms that turn on during old age will help prolong life and youth. Over the past two decades, scientists have identified many genes responsible for these processes, but none of them is suitable for the role of the main "gene of old age" or "eternal youth".

A group of biologists led by Issei Komuro from Osaka University (Japan) discovered one of the key elements controlling the aging process by studying the work of two complex genetic mechanisms – the so-called Wnt system and the C1q protein complex.

As the researchers explain, the work of these cellular mechanisms is provided by several dozen genes and proteins that transmit, process and respond to chemical signals. The Wnt system controls the development of the body during adulthood, and breakdowns in it are one of the main causes of the appearance of cancer cells. The C1q protein complex is involved in the work of the immune system, but not all of its functions are known to scientists.

In 2007, several groups of biologists noticed at once that the Wnt system plays a significant role in the aging of the mammalian organism. In particular, suppression of Wnt activity "restored" youth to the bone tissues and muscles of elderly mice. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that control the operation of this system have remained a mystery until now.

Komuro and his colleagues noticed that an increase in Wnt activity in the cells of elderly mice was accompanied by an increase in the concentration of the C1q protein. They suggested that it is this substance that activates the Wnt system and triggers the aging mechanism.

To test this assumption, biologists have grown cultures of human and mouse muscle cells and added a large number of C1q molecules to the nutrient medium. A few hours after the start of the experiment, the scientists noticed that the molecules of the protein complex connected with one of the components of the Wnt system – Fz receptors on the cell surface.

Diagram from the article in Cell – VM

According to scientists, an increase in the concentration of C1q molecules in the nutrient solution led to an increase in Wnt activity in cells, which confirmed the biologists' guess. Convinced of the truth of the hypothesis, biologists tried to artificially age the muscles of a young mouse into the muscles of an elderly rodent.

The authors of the article acquired several young mice and divided them into two groups. Rodents from the first group were pasted on their legs with a gel patch impregnated with protein complex molecules, and the second group became the control group.

A few days later, biologists burned the legs of their wards with liquid nitrogen and assessed the rate of wound recovery. It turned out that the muscles of the mice with the patch recovered extremely slowly, and their structure was more similar to the muscles of elderly rather than young rodents. The muscles of the animals from the control group recovered at a normal pace.

Komuro and his colleagues believe that their discovery will help develop drugs that suppress the activity of the Wnt system.

"The task is to ensure that the new anti-aging drug suppresses only the activity of the C1q complex, the proportion of which increases in the cells of the body as we age. The results of our research have brought the realization of humanity's dream of preventing aging one step closer," Komuro said in an interview with the Japanese Kyodo news agency.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru13.06.2012

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