It's all in the brain! Scientists slow down ageing in mice
Manipulating a molecule in almond-sized structure increased longevity by 20%, says study
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 01 May 2013
An almond-sized structure in the brain may hold the key to slowing down the rate of ageing throughout the entire body, a study suggests.
Scientists believe they have found the "fountain of ageing" in the shape of the hypothalamus, a small region of the brain involved in regulating the secretion of various hormones.
The researchers said they have speeded up and slowed down the rate of ageing in laboratory mice by manipulating chemical messengers that affect the hypothalamus, which is known to play a fundamental role in growth, development, reproduction and metabolism.
"Scientists have long wondered whether ageing occurs independently in the body's various tissues or if it could be actively regulated by an organ in the body," said Dongsheng Cai of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
"It's clear from our study that many aspects of ageing are controlled by the hypothalamus. What's exciting is that it's possible, at least in mice, to alter signalling within the hypothalamus to slow down the ageing process and increase longevity," Dr Cai said.
The study, published in the journal Nature, focussed on a molecule known to be central to the many biochemical reactions involved in the process of inflammation, which is important in many age-related conditions, he said.
"As people age, you can detect inflammatory changes in various tissues. Inflammation is also involved in various age-related diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease and many types of cancer," Dr Cai said.
By manipulating the levels of the molecule, known as NF-kB, within the hypothalamus, the researchers were able to slow down the rate of ageing and increase longevity of mice by up to 20 per cent.
The team also found that they could slow the rate of cognitive decline by up to 50 per cent, which they could measure by how easy the mice remember how to find their way out of a maze.
Alternatively, they could activate the molecule and speed up ageing. "The mice showed a decrease in muscle strength and size, in skin thickness, and in their ability to learn - all indicators of ageing. Activating this pathway promoted systemic ageing that shortened their lifespan," Dr Cai said.
"The hypothalamus seems to have a fundamental role in the ageing of the whole body because it is so critical to the regulation of the endocrine hormones," he said.
"The hypothalamus is an important structure in the brain that controls lots of important functions in life and ageing is a phenomenon of life," he added.
Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali 2014: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits and bonus: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer ...
£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:TEACHERS REQUIREDWe are...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...
£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Needs Teaching Assistant ...