Restoring Some Youthful Gene Expression Levels in an Aged Liver

An interesting experiment, especially when compared with work on brain aging that focuses on levels of cell proliferation: "During the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that consistent changes in the levels of expression of a small cohort of genes accompany the aging of mammalian tissues. In many cases, these changes have been shown to generate features that are characteristic of the senescent phenotype. Previously, a small pilot study indicated that some of these changes might be reversed in rat liver, if the liver cells became malignant and were proliferating. The present study has tested the hypothesis that inducing proliferation in old rat liver can reset the levels of expression of these age-related genes to that observed in young tissue. A microarray approach was used to identify genes that exhibited the greatest changes in their expression during aging. The levels of expression of these markers were then examined in transcriptomes of both proliferating hepatomas from old animals and old rat liver lobes that had regenerated after partial hepatectomy but were again quiescent. We have found evidence that over 20% of the aging-related genes had their levels of expression reset to young levels by stimulating proliferation, even in cells that had undergone a limited number of cell cycles and then become quiescent again. Moreover, our network analysis [may] provide insights into mechanisms involved in longevity and regeneration that are distinct from cancer."


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