Brain cells found to control aging

If you're getting old, you'll want to read this whole article.

Scientists have found that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. The finding, made in mice, could lead to new strategies for warding off age-related diseases and extending lifespan.

Einstein researchers made the surprising finding that the hypothalamus also regulates aging throughout the body. Now, the scientists have pinpointed the cells in the hypothalamus that control aging: a tiny population of adult neural stem cells, which were known to be responsible for forming new brain neurons.

"Our research shows that the number of hypothalamic neural stem cells naturally declines over the life of the animal, and this decline accelerates aging," says senior author Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D., (professor of molecular pharmacology at Einstein. "But we also found that the effects of this loss are not irreversible. By replenishing these stem cells or the molecules they produce, it's possible to slow and even reverse various aspects of aging throughout the body."

... the hypothalamic stem cells appear to exert their anti-aging effects by releasing molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs). They are not involved in protein synthesis but instead play key roles in regulating gene expression. miRNAs are packaged inside tiny particles called exosomes, which hypothalamic stem cells release into the cerebrospinal fluid of mice.

The researchers extracted miRNA-containing exosomes from hypothalamic stem cells and injected them into the cerebrospinal fluid of two groups of mice: middle-aged mice whose hypothalamic stem cells had been destroyed and normal middle-aged mice. This treatment significantly slowed aging in both groups of animals as measured by tissue analysis and behavioral testing that involved assessing changes in the animals' muscle endurance, coordination, social behavior and cognitive ability.

The researchers are now trying to identify the particular populations of microRNAs and perhaps other factors secreted by these stem cells that are responsible for these anti-aging effects -- a first step toward possibly slowing the aging process and treating age-related diseases. [emphasis mine]

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for sharing this!

I wonder whether an anti-aging treatment resulting from this will be available to ordinary people, not just the super-rich.

I wonder?!

Oh! Geez, does this mean that the aches and pains associated with being old will evaporate? If yes, I want a treatment; if no, put me to sleep now, aging is not all that fun!

It turns out my foot has a bone infection. Oh POOH! I had planned to walk to the greenhouse this week 

I don't know which aches and pains are from aging and which are just my body lying to me. What I call "imaginary pains" that have no corresponding injury. Like the broken ankle that I can feel clear as shards of broken glass but which has never actually been broken...

Maybe your broken glass and my broken glass are from similar causes. I am still in the midst of tests to see what is causing my foot pain. We don't know, maybe arthritis, maybe bone shards. When I know what causes mine I will let you know. 

I'm sorry you have this condition! It is just dreadful. It has been over a month now and today was the first day I was able to do something useful, i.e. wash, dry, and put away the dishes. Laura said she could do it three times faster, and I replied that I have three times more spare time than she.

It burns like the devil tonight; how is yours? 

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