Worms reveal secrets of aging: Researchers discover a conserved pathway that controls aging

October 13, 2017, Case Western Reserve University
Caenorhabditis elegans. Credit: Wikipedia

Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Health System have identified a new molecular pathway that controls lifespan and healthspan in worms and mammals. In a Nature Communications study published today, researchers showed that worms with excess levels of certain proteins lived longer and healthier than normal worms. In addition, mice with excess levels of these proteins demonstrated a delay in blood vessel dysfunction associated with aging. The study has major implications for our understanding of aging and age-associated disorders.

"We find that by artificially increasing or decreasing the levels of a family of proteins called Kruppel-like transcription factors (KLF), we can actually get these small worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) to live for longer or shorter time periods," said first author Nelson Hsieh, MD/PhD fellow at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Since this same family of proteins also exists in mammals, what is really exciting is that our data suggests the KLFs also have similar effects on aging in mammals, too."

"The observation that KLF levels decrease with age and that sustained levels of KLFs can prevent the age-associated loss of blood vessel function is intriguing given that vascular dysfunction contributes significantly to diverse age-associated conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, and dementia" added senior author Mukesh K. Jain, MD, Professor, Vice-Dean for Medical Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Chief Scientific Officer, University Hospitals Health System.

Upon further investigation, the researchers discovered that KLF proteins work by controlling autophagy—a recycling process cells use to clear debris, like misfolded proteins or normal molecular byproducts that build up in old age. Loss of this quality control mechanism is a hallmark of aging.

"As cells age, their ability to perform these functions declines," say the authors. "This likely leads to an unsustainable accumulation of toxic aggregates, which ultimately present an obstacle to cellular survival." Worms without KLF proteins cannot maintain autophagy and die early.

According to the researchers, the next step will be to study the precise mechanisms underlying how autophagy in cells lining blood vessels contributes to improved blood vessel function. They will also seek strategies to target KLF proteins in humans.

Said Hsieh, "As our population ages, we need to understand what happens to our heart and arteries, as we rely on them to function perfectly later and later on in our lives. Our findings illuminate what can happen during aging, and provide a foundation to designing interventions which slow these processes."

Explore further: Fast-forward aging due to DNA damage

More information: Paishiun N. Hsieh et al, A conserved KLF-autophagy pathway modulates nematode lifespan and mammalian age-associated vascular dysfunction, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00899-5

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not rated yet Oct 14, 2017
What is wrong in courting Immortality?
Also, Biological Research too should go full-speed like other fields.
Take for example, unicellular Euglena that both act like plants & also eat/devour like animals.
They can live in both fresh water and salt water.
They have to convert Amoeba too in Lab to Photosynthesize like Euglena!
Since we cannot tinker safely and properly with human bodies.....We should start with tiny ones for the present.
not rated yet Oct 14, 2017
What is wrong in courting Immortality?
Also, Biological Research too should go full-speed like other fields.
Take for example, unicellular Euglena that both act like plants & also eat/devour like animals.
not rated yet Oct 14, 2017
What is wrong in courting Immortality?
Also, Biological Research too should go full-speed like other fields.
Take for example, unicellular Euglena that both act like plants & also eat/devour like animals.
https://euglenapr...ess.com/ Euglena eats green algae, amoebae, paramecia and rotifers.
not rated yet Oct 15, 2017
Research to make People/Any Living Being Immortal is like climbing Long Stairs. 1st step HAS TO BE TAKEN. Amoebae are unicellular, The "Giant Amoebae", Chaos carolinense & Amoeba proteus, "Brain-eating amoeba" Naegleria fowleri, Intestinal parasitic Amoeba Entamoeba histolytica, HARMLESS Entamoeba coli, Entamoeba dispar, and Entamoeba hartmanni etc., With Great Gene Editing Tool, Already in our hands, WHY NOT FIND A VIRUS that can get into these and convert them from one into the other, carrying the needed genes?
IT HAS TO BE, SHOULD BE DONE! A MUST. How stupid it is! Even today Humans keep dying in the hands of feline cats, crocs, whales, sharks, bears etc., REMOVE THEM ASAP ! We have tools today to deal with the consequences later on!

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