Restoring the Regenerative Power of Old Stem Cells

A possible road to rejuvenating some portions of the declining mechanisms of tissue regeneration in the old: "The regenerative power of tissues and organs declines as we age. The modern day stem cell hypothesis of aging suggests that living organisms are as old as are its tissue specific or adult stem cells. Therefore, an understanding of the molecules and processes that enable human adult stem cells to initiate self-renewal and to divide, proliferate and then differentiate in order to rejuvenate damaged tissue might be the key to regenerative medicine and an eventual cure for many age-related diseases. ... We demonstrated that we were able to reverse the process of aging for human adult stem cells by intervening with the activity of non-protein coding RNAs originated from genomic regions once dismissed as non-functional 'genomic junk' ... adult stem cells undergo age-related damage. And when this happens, the body can't replace damaged tissue as well as it once could, leading to a host of diseases and conditions. ... The team began by hypothesizing that DNA damage in the genome of adult stem cells would look very different from age-related damage occurring in regular body cells. ... They compared freshly isolated human adult stem cells from young individuals, which can self-renew, to cells from the same individuals that were subjected to prolonged passaging in culture. This accelerated model of adult stem cell aging exhausts the regenerative capacity of the adult stem cells. Researchers looked at the changes in genomic sites that accumulate DNA damage in both groups. ... We found the majority of DNA damage and associated chromatin changes that occurred with adult stem cell aging were due to parts of the genome known as retrotransposons ... By suppressing the accumulation of toxic transcripts from retrotransposons, we were able to reverse the process of human adult stem cell aging in culture." The next step would be to look at this process in old animals, and see what happens when it is reversed.

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163215.htm

Comments

Interesting stuff. Looking forward to further research. Hopefully, they'll look at this process in old animals, as you suggest.

Posted by: Nick at September 21st, 2011 7:48 AM

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