Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aging linked to cellular interactions that occur across generations

Date:
April 25, 2014
Source:
University of North Carolina Health Care
Summary:
By studying the reproductive cells of nematodes -- tiny worms found in soil and compost bins -- a researcher identified the Piwi/piRNA genome silencing pathway, the loss of which results in infertility after many generations. This study also found a signaling pathway -- a series of molecular interactions inside cells -- that could be tweaked to overcome infertility while also causing the worms to live longer adult lives.

The evidence for what causes aging has typically been limited to the study of a single organism's lifespan; our cells divide many times throughout our lives and eventually cause organs and our bodies to age and break down. But new research from the UNC School of Medicine suggests that how we age might depend on cellular interactions that we inherit from ancestors throughout many generations.

By studying the reproductive cells of nematodes -- tiny worms found in soil and compost bins -- Shawn Ahmed, PhD, an associate professor of genetics, identified the Piwi/piRNA genome silencing pathway, the loss of which results in infertility after many generations. He also found a signaling pathway -- a series of molecular interactions inside cells -- that he could tweak to overcome infertility while also causing the worms to live longer adult lives.

The research, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Cambridge and described in a paper published in the journal Cell Reports, suggests that it's possible to manipulate the aging process of progeny before they're even born.

The finding gives scientists a deeper understanding of what may govern aging and age-related diseases, such as some cancers and neurodegenerative conditions.

Typically, nematodes produce about 30 generations in a matter of months and remain fertile indefinitely. Ahmed and colleagues found that a mutation in the Piwi/piRNA cellular pathway of germ cells gradually decreased the worms' ability to reproduce as the mutation was passed down through the generations and eventually caused complete sterility. But when Ahmed's team manipulated a different protein -- DAF-16/FOXO -- the nematodes overcame the loss of the Piwi pathway. The worms did not become sterile; generations of worms reproduced indefinitely, achieving a sort of generational immortality. Moreover, it has been well established that DAF-16/FOXO plays a role in nematodes living longer.

Achieving longer life suggests that there's an effect on the aging of somatic cells -- the cells that make up the body and organs of an organism.

"That's the really interesting thing about this," said Ahmed, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. "What we've found implies that there's some sort of relationship between somatic cell aging and this germ line immortality process we've been studying."

What that relationship is, precisely, remains unknown. But so does the exact mechanism by which human somatic cells age as they divide throughout our lives. That is, exactly how we age -- at the cellular level -- is still not entirely understood.

"The field is fairly open in terms of what might cause aging of somatic cells," Ahmed said. "What makes our study unique is that we've found something that could be transmitted over many generations that could affect aging but is not necessarily a genetic mutation. Instead, whatever is being transmitted likely affects how a segment of the genome is silenced, and that genome segment can be modulated by a genetic mutation."

Think of it like this: when you were born, there could have been something in the reproductive cells of your parents that triggered how the somatic cells of your liver or kidneys would age after you were born.

"This inheritable factor could be dictating the rate at which some of your organs are aging," Ahmed said, "and this may have been set during embryogenesis."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina Health Care. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Matt Simon, Peter Sarkies, Kohta Ikegami, Anna-Lisa Doebley, LeonardD. Goldstein, Jacinth Mitchell, Aisa Sakaguchi, EricA. Miska, Shawn Ahmed. Reduced Insulin/IGF-1 Signaling Restores Germ Cell Immortality to Caenorhabditis elegans Piwi Mutants. Cell Reports, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.03.056

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina Health Care. "Aging linked to cellular interactions that occur across generations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140425134018.htm>.
University of North Carolina Health Care. (2014, April 25). Aging linked to cellular interactions that occur across generations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140425134018.htm
University of North Carolina Health Care. "Aging linked to cellular interactions that occur across generations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140425134018.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins