People have long been trying to find a means to prolong their lives, ideally – something like the elixir of immortality. Did it in the Middle Ages, they do it now. But, of course, the methods that modern scientists use are incomparable with what the alchemists used. Modern specialists try to either find, or create something that will stop aging or even turn this process back. So far the most interesting results have been demonstrated by the project team led by successful IT people – billionaire Peter Tile from Silicon Valley and ex-Google employee Bill Murris
They, along with a group of other scientists, conducted a large-scale study on the relationship of brain work Human and aging. The results of this study are published in the journal Nature. As it turned out, this relationship exists in mammals and humans, and it is quite well traced.
Scientists did not research on humans, but on mice. In their brain, cells are found that regulate the rate of aging of the body. In the beginning of their work, the representatives of the project took as a basis the work of other scientists who showed that the nervous system of man plays an important role in regulating the aging process, namely, the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It is he who connects the nervous and endocrine regulation of a multitude of biochemical processes occurring in the body of man and animals.
As it turned out, neural stem cells (NSCs) are involved in the regulation of aging, which are responsible for the growth of brain tissue in adult mice. NSCs were identified in the so-called mediobasal area of the hypothalamus of young mice. Identify them was possible with the help of special markers – transcription factors Sox2 and nuclear protein Bmi1. The maximum concentration of such cells was found in young animals. In older mice, the number of these cells decreases, and in old mice (whose age has reached 22 or more years) their number has decreased to zero.
But, perhaps, the reduction in the number of such cells is a consequence of some process, not the cause of aging? To find this out, scientists using a specific virus destroyed more than 70% of the NSC in the hypothalamus in middle-aged mice. After that, the animals began to grow old much faster than before the operation, and they died much earlier than usual for mice.
After this a new stage of the experiment followed, during which the NSC of only born animals was introduced into the mediobasal area of the hypothalamus of middle-aged mice. These cells were modified in a special way so that they did not die during transplantation. A month and a half later, scientists found that in mice that had undergone this procedure, the activity level increased, muscular endurance, coordination, and some other functions improved. After a while, signs of rejuvenation became more pronounced. The control group of mice was injected with other cells – astrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells. But there was no effect like working with the NSC.
After the completion of this stage of the experiment, scientists decided to find out which cells of the NSC are responsible for regulating the aging processes. To do this, an analysis of biological active molecules that produce hypothalamic NSCs would be performed. As it turned out, these cells are secreted into the so-called cerebrospinal fluid exosomes with a variety of microRNAs. They are known to not participate in protein synthesis, but are actively involved in the regulation of gene expression.
In order to find out how exosomes influence micro-RNA on the aging process, specialists took this material from donors and injected recipient mice into the cerebrospinal fluid. In both groups of mice, the age group was approximately equal. In addition, the hypothalamic NSC was partially removed. As it turned out, in those mice that received exosomes with microRNA, the aging process slowed down considerably. Thus, the influence of cells and their derivatives can be considered proven.
In general, the research is far from complete. Scientists have yet to find out what the structure and specific functions of microRNAs in hypothalamic NSCs are. It is also planned to study other derived cells, perhaps they also somehow affect the aging process. Surely, experts will be able to find out a lot of interesting things in the course of the new study.
Be that as it may, gerontology is now one of the most rapidly developing areas in medicine, as more and more well-to-do people with significant resources (not only financial) pay attention to the problem of aging. To be old and sick, few want, better than health and youth, no one came up with anything.