Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Young Stem Cells In Old Mice Increased Lifespan

A special breed of mice lived up to three times longer than normal after University of Pittsburgh researchers injected them with stem cells from younger, healthy mice, according to a study being published today in the journal Nature Communications.

Working with mice that are bred to die prematurely, Pitt researchers led by Johnny Huard and Laura Niedernhofer dramatically increased the animals' lifespans by injecting them in the abdomen with young animals' muscle stem cells. _Post-Gazette

Keep in mind that this research was done in a special breed of mouse that is programmed to have a shorter lifespan. Additional research will be required to determine if normal ageing mice can benefit from similar treatment.
"We wanted to see if we could rescue these rapidly aging animals, so we injected stem/progenitor cells from young, healthy mice into the abdomens of 17-day-old progeria mice," Dr. Huard said. "Typically the progeria mice die at around 21 to 28 days of age, but the treated animals lived far longer – some even lived beyond 66 days. They also were in better general health."

As the progeria mice age, they lose muscle mass in their hind limbs, hunch over, tremble, and move slowly and awkwardly. Affected mice that got a shot of stem cells just before showing the first signs of aging were more like normal mice, and they grew almost as large. Closer examination showed new blood vessel growth in the brain and muscle, even though the stem/progenitor cells weren't detected in those tissues.

In fact, the cells didn't migrate to any particular tissue after injection into the abdomen.
"This leads us to think that healthy cells secrete factors to create an environment that help correct the dysfunction present in the native stem cell population and aged tissue," Dr. Niedernhofer said. "In a culture dish experiment, we put young stem cells close to, but not touching, progeria stem cells, and the unhealthy cells functionally improved." _MedXpress
Stem cells can conceivably be used for many purposes, in the treatment of ageing. In the case of the above research, the stem cells apparently secreted some type of hormonal growth factor which was lacking in the progeria mice.

But in future, more sophisticated uses of stem cells to treat ageing, stem cells will be used for tissue replacement, organ regeneration and replacement, humoral factor replacement, and probably other uses not yet discovered.



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