JAN 03, 2019 2:55 PM PST

Can the Immune System Restore Youth?

WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Breehl

If only we could keep our bodies young, healthy and energetic, even as we attain the wisdom of our years. New research at the Weizmann Institute of Science suggests this dream could be at least partly obtainable in the future. The results of this research, led by Prof. Valery Krizhanovsky and Dr. Yossi Ovadya in the Molecular Cell Biology Department, were recently published in Nature Communications.

The research began with an investigation into the way that the immune system is involved in a significant activity: clearing away old, senescent cells that spell trouble for the body when they hang around. Senescent cells -- not wholly dead but suffering the loss of function or irreparable damage -- have been implicated in diseases of aging by promoting inflammation. The researchers used mice in which a crucial gene for this immune activity was missing. At two years (elderly, for mice), the bodies of these mice had a more significant accumulation of senescent cells compared with the mice in which the gene for removing these cells was intact. The mice missing the gene suffered from chronic inflammation, and various functions in their bodies appeared to be diminished. They also looked older -- and died earlier -- than their normal counterparts.

Next, the researchers gave the mice a drug that inhibits the function of specific proteins that help the aging cells survive in their senescent state, to see if this would contribute to the removal of these cells from the body. The drugs were administered to mice whose aging was a result of the malfunctions the group had uncovered in the immune system as well as those suffering premature aging from a different genetic error. The treated mice responded exceptionally well to the drug: Their blood tests and activity tests showed improvement, and their tissues appeared to be much closer to those of young mice. The scientists counted senescent cells, finding many fewer of them remaining in the treated mice's bodies; and when they looked for signs of inflammation, they saw that this, too, was significantly lower. The mice treated with the drug were more active, and their median lifespan rose when compared to untreated mice.

The scientists intend to continue exploring ways to prompt the human body to remove its old senescent cells, mainly to find means of activating the immune system to do this job. That is, if future experimentation proves their theories correct, they could end up creating truly "anti-aging" therapies.

Sources: Science Daily, Nature Communications, YouTube

About the Author
You May Also Like
FEB 18, 2021
Immunology
Protective COVID Antibodies Found in Breast Milk
FEB 18, 2021
Protective COVID Antibodies Found in Breast Milk
University of Rochester researchers analyzing breast milk samples from mothers with COVID-19 found that it doesn’t ...
MAR 18, 2021
Immunology
COVID Cytokine Storm Chasers Look Inside the Lungs
MAR 18, 2021
COVID Cytokine Storm Chasers Look Inside the Lungs
Immunologists have revealed one of the underlying mechanisms behind COVID’s life-threatening cytokine storms. By s ...
APR 13, 2021
Immunology
Food-borne Fungus Impedes Gut Healing
APR 13, 2021
Food-borne Fungus Impedes Gut Healing
In a recent study, researchers discovered that a fungus present in cheese, processed meats, beer, and other fermented fo ...
APR 21, 2021
Immunology
Human T Cells Can't Recognize COVID Mutants
APR 21, 2021
Human T Cells Can't Recognize COVID Mutants
Genetic variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have emerged and tightened their grip on global communities as the pandemic rag ...
MAY 19, 2021
Immunology
Intestinal Macrophages Promote Chronic Inflammation in Obesity
MAY 19, 2021
Intestinal Macrophages Promote Chronic Inflammation in Obesity
A research group from Switzerland hypothesized that immune cells in the gut (gastrointestinal tract) must trigger chroni ...
JUN 08, 2021
Immunology
Is the Pfizer-BioNtech Vaccine Variant-Resistant?
JUN 08, 2021
Is the Pfizer-BioNtech Vaccine Variant-Resistant?
Genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 have emerged over the course of the pandemic, threatening public health efforts to limit ...
Loading Comments...