According to a study published on 3 January in Nature Communications, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have improved the health and longevity of aging mice by injecting them with stem cell-like progenitor cells derived from the muscle of young mice.
Within the body, stem/progenitor cells have the ability to repair tissue. In aging tissue, these cells often show dysfunction in their ability to replicate, differentiate and repair damaged tissue. In an interview with Decoded Science, co-author Laura Niedernhofer, M.D., Ph.D, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, said that ‘young stem cells were able to rejuvenate old stem cells in the laboratory’. These findings have the potential to have direct therapeutic benefit for the elderly, as well as patients with muscle-related disorders.
Age Reversal: Using Young Stem Cells to Rejuvenate Aging Stem Cells
The research team injected the stem/progenitor cells into the abdomens of 17-day-old progeria mice, which normally have a lifespan of 21 to 28 days. Progeria is a disease that causes abnormally quick aging, including loss of muscle mass, difficulty in mobility, muscle spasms and trembling. After receiving the injection of stem cells, results showed new blood vessel growth in the brain and muscle, improved health and increased longevity. Niedernhofer states that ‘a single injection of stem cells was sufficient to extend the average lifespan of a rapidly aging mouse model up to 3-fold (from 21 days to 66 days)’.
Furthermore, Niedernhofer explains that ‘two injections of stem cells was sufficient to delay the onset of the majority of aging-related symptoms (signs of neurodegeneration, osteoporosis, muscle wasting and reduced activity) in a less acute model of accelerated aging (mice that live 7 months as opposed to the normal 3 year mouse lifespan)’. The treatment improved the health and lifespan of all the progeria mice, but varied on an individual basis, as every individual responds differently to the aging process.
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