Aging-US: Hallmarks of Cancer and Hallmarks of Aging

“Hyperfunctional signaling directly drives age-related diseases.”

— Mikhail Blagosklonny, M.D., Ph.D.

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BUFFALO, NY- May 18, 2022 – Dr. Mikhail Blagosklonny published his new review paper in Aging (Aging-US) Volume 14, Issue 9, entitled, “Hallmarks of cancer and hallmarks of aging.”

In this review, Dr. Blagosklonny expands on Gems and de Magalhães’ notion that canonic hallmarks of aging are superficial imitations of the hallmarks of cancer. He takes their work a step further and proposes the hallmarks of cancer and aging based on a hierarchical principle and the hyperfunction theory.

“Here I present the hallmarks of cancer, depicted as a circle by Hanahan and Weinberg [1], not as the circle but hierarchically, from molecular levels to the organism (Figure 1).”

Figure 1. Hierarchical representation (from molecular to organismal levels) of the original hallmarks of cancer based on Hanahan and Weinberg. See text for explanation.

Next, Dr. Blagosklonny depicts the hallmarks of aging suggested by López-Otín et al. based on the hierarchical principle. 

“This representation renders hallmarks tangible but reveals three shortcomings (Figure 2).”

Figure 2. Hierarchical representation of the hallmarks of aging based on López-Otín et al. See text for explanation.

The first shortcoming that Dr. Blagosklonny notes is the lack of hallmarks on the organismal level. The second is that the relationship between hallmarks on different levels is unclear. The third is that the inclusion of genetic instability as a hallmark is based on the theory that aging is caused by the accumulation of molecular damage. 

“The molecular damage theory was refuted by key experiments, as discussed in detail [44–51].” 

Dr. Blagosklonny then uses the hyperfunction theory to arrange the hierarchical hallmarks of aging.

“Let us depict hallmarks of aging, according to the hyperfunction theory of aging (Figure 3).”

Figure 3. Hierarchical hallmarks of aging based on hyperfunction theory, applicable to humans. Non-life-limiting hallmarks are shown in brown color. See text for explanation.

Dr. Blagosklonny continues by discussing the key to understanding aging and aging as a selective force for cancer. He concludes this review by discussing the common hallmarks of cancer, aging and cell senescence.

“In organismal aging, cancer and cellular senescence, the same key signaling pathways, such as mTOR, are involved. This is why the same drugs, such as rapamycin, can suppress all of them.”

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.204082 

Correspondence to: Mikhail V. Blagosklonny 

Email: Blagosklonny@oncotarget.comBlagosklonny@rapalogs.com 

Keywords: oncology, carcinogenesis, geroscience, mTOR, rapamycin, hyperfunction theory

Follow Dr. Blagosklonny on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Blagosklonny

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About Aging-US:

Launched in 2009, Aging-US publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging-US go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

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Dr. Blagosklonny’s Rapamycin-Based Recommendation for Altos Labs

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After the January 2022 launch of Altos Labs, a new anti-aging biotechnology company, Mikhail (Misha) Blagosklonny, M.D., Ph.D., joined this exciting public conversation with a recommendation. Dr. Blagosklonny is a prominent scientist in the fields of cancer and aging research. He is well-known for his experimental research articles and theoretical papers on the hyperfunction theory of aging and the pursuit of longevity with rapamycin. On April 22, 2022, his latest research perspective was published in Oncoscience, and entitled, “Altos Labs and the quest for immortality: but can we live longer right now?” 

“Here I discuss how combining rapamycin with other modalities may let us live long enough to benefit from future discoveries in cellular reprogramming and what needs to be done at Altos Labs to make this happen.” (Source: Blagosklonny, 2022)

Altos Labs

Funded by multiple billionaire investors, including Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner, Altos Labs has announced that their primary focus is on reprogramming cells in the pursuit of reversing the trajectory of many diseases, and thus, reversing aging.

“Altos Labs is a new biotechnology company focused on cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience, with the goal of reversing disease to transform medicine.” (Source: AltosLabs.com)

Altos Labs researchers are aiming to turn back the human aging process by resetting epigenetic clocks within our cells. Cellular rejuvenation programming is a process by which the aging of cells may be reversed, potentially leading to the prevention or reversal of age-related diseases, such as cancer. In animal studies, cellular rejuvenation programming has been shown to lead to improved healthspan and increased lifespan. Researchers at Altos Labs intend to investigate its effects in humans with further research. The process will potentially involve the use of the Yamanaka factors, specialized proteins known as sirtuins and artificial intelligence or machine learning. Implications of successfully developing this technology would be vast, and it could one day lead to a significant extension of the human lifespan.

Dr. Blagosklonny’s Recommendation

Following the public unveiling of this new and highly-funded quest to reverse aging through cellular reprogramming, Dr. Blagosklonny openly chimed in with a perceptive recommendation in his latest research perspective. Given that potential revelations learned from studies at Altos Labs may take years to be brought safely to public markets, Dr. Blagosklonny suggests that research at Altos Labs should also include a deep investigation into rapamycin, a clinically approved mTOR inhibitor. Rapamycin is a promising anti-aging agent that was first clinically approved as an immunosuppressive drug to prevent organ rejection after a kidney transplant. 

“Rapamycin treatment is rapidly becoming a mainstream anti-aging intervention.” (Source: Blagosklonny, 2022)

Dr. Blagosklonny writes that potential life-extension with rapamycin may allow us to slow aging while we await future discoveries that may reverse aging altogether. However, he also writes that treatment with rapamycin alone is unlikely to extend lifespan sufficiently enough to benefit from Altos Labs’ future discoveries within our lifetime. Dr. Blagosklonny urges that discovering efficacious combinations of rapamycin with other therapeutic agents may enable humans today to live long enough to benefit from Altos Labs’ future discoveries in cellular reprogramming.

“If Altos Labs would allocate a small percentage of its funding to develop rapamycin based drug combinations, then additional decades of life extension may be available 3–5 years from now.”

“The number of potential combinations with rapamycin is enormous.” (Source: Blagosklonny, 2022)

Click here to read Dr. Blagosklonny’s full research perspective, published in Oncoscience.

Press release: Altos Labs and the Quest for Immortality: Dr. Blagosklonny’s Perspective.

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TP53 Restoration Sensitizes Pancreatic Cancer to Multiple Drugs

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Patients over the age of 50 years old who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have a poorer rate of survival compared to younger patients. This means that pancreatic cancer is a disease associated with aging. The most common type of pancreatic cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and it is frequently diagnosed in its later stages. PDAC is often refractive to chemotherapies and develops resistance to inhibitors and other drugs. Therefore, there is a critical need for researchers to discover novel strategies to overcome drug resistance in PDAC cells.

One potential strategy is to focus on a key gene known for its involvement in many cell processes, including drug resistance and metabolism: TP53. The TP53 gene is often mutated or deleted in cancer cells, which can lead to drug resistance and cancer metastasis. In PDACS, this tumor suppressor gene has been shown to be mutated in 50–75% of patients.

“Many genes have been implicated in PDAC including KRAS, TP53, CDKN2A, SMAD4 and PDGFβR [3, 8, 9, 1822].”

In a new study, researchers—from Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Università di Bologna, University of Parma, and University of Wroclaw—further elucidated TP53’s role in drug resistance in PDAC cells. On April 27, 2022, their research paper was published in Aging (Aging-US) on the cover of Volume 14, Issue 8, and entitled, “Wild type and gain of function mutant TP53 can regulate the sensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, EGFR/Ras/Raf/MEK, and PI3K/mTORC1/GSK-3 pathway inhibitors, nutraceuticals and alter metabolic properties.”

The Study

In these in vitro studies, the researchers cultured two different PDAC cell lines. One cell line had a gain of function (GOF) TP53 mutation (MIA-PaCa-2) and the other had a loss of TP53 (PANC-28). Both PDAC cell lines also have activating mutations in the KRAS gene. Next, the team introduced either wild-type TP53 (WT-TP53) or a control vector into both PDAC cell lines. Effects from this experiment were analyzed using 26 clinically approved agents.

The chemotherapeutic drugs included: Docetaxel, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), gemcitabine, Aclacinomycin, Doxorubicin, and Cisplatin. The signal transduction inhibitors included: ARS-1620, PD0325901, LY294002, Pifithrin-μ, 6-bromoindirubin-30-oxime (BIO), SB415286, CHIR99021, Rapamycin, AG1498, Gilteritinib, Sorafenib, OTX008, Tiplaxtinin, Verapamil, and Vismodegib. The natural products included: Cyclopamine, Parthenolide2, Isoliquiritin2, Genistein2, and Daidzein2. The researchers also illustrated the effects of WT-TP53 and mutant TP53 on PDAC cell metabolism with metformin and rapamycin.

“An overview of the effects of WT and mutant TP53 on metabolic properties, together with the effects of metformin and rapamycin, and drugs used to inhibit pancreatic cancer growth, is presented in Figure 16.”

Figure 16. Influences of mutant and WT-TP53 on mitochondrial activity and glucose metabolism and effects of rapamycin and metformin. The effects of WT and mutant TP53 on key enzymes important in glycolysis and how they can influence metabolism and PDAC tumor growth. In our studies, we have examined the effect of GOF mutant TP53 and in some cases WT TP53. In addition, sites of interaction of the type 2 diabetes drug metformin and the immunosuppressive drug rapamycin and their effects on AMPK and mTORC1 are indicated. TP53 can induce mitochondrial apoptosis pathway by regulating the expression of PUMA and other proteins.

The Results

The researchers found that, in the presence of chemotherapeutic drugs, PDAC clonogenicity was decreased by the restoration of WT-TP53. Overall, the restoration of WT-TP53 in PDAC cells increased sensitivity/decreased resistance to various chemotherapeutic drugs, inhibitors and natural products. WT-TP53 also influenced  PDAC cell metabolic properties, including their metabolism. The authors also noted that the activity of mTORC1 (target of rapamycin), which is important in cellular growth and metabolism, can be affected by mutant TP53. They found that GOF mutated TP53 may render PDAC cells more resistant to rapamycin.

“Rapamycin and metformin can interfere with some of the important pathways in the mitochondria, some of which are regulated by TP53 [9698].”

Conclusion

Overall, these results suggest that WT-TP53 can play a key role in PDAC cell sensitivity to multiple drugs used to treat pancreatic cancer. Further studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying the effects of TP53 on drug resistance and metabolism in PDAC cells, as well as its clinical implications.

“Regardless of which of the above processes contributes more to the reduction of mitochondrial metabolism in comparison with the same cells that only express GOF TP53, together the observed changes suggest restoration of WT-TP3 activity confers increased sensitization to various drugs and therapeutic molecules, natural products as well as nutraceuticals.”

Click here to read the full research paper published by Aging (Aging-US).

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Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers bi-monthly in all fields of aging research. These papers are available at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals have the power to benefit humanity from the inside out by rapidly disseminating information that may be freely shared with researchers, colleagues, family, and friends around the world.

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Trending With Impact: Tobacco PEBP Increases Lifespan in Fruit Flies

Researchers conducted an interspecies analysis to determine the effects on aging that occur when certain plant proteins are expressed in animals and animal proteins are expressed in plants.

Fruit flies

The Trending With Impact series highlights Aging (Aging-US) publications that attract higher visibility among readers around the world online, in the news, and on social media—beyond normal readership levels. Look for future science news about the latest trending publications here, and at Aging-US.com.

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The proteostasis network is a cellular quality control system that ensures proteins fold correctly, damaged proteins are eliminated and protein pools are replenished. During the aging process, the proteome and respective signaling pathways frequently become error-prone. A class of proteins believed to play a role in aging-related processes is the phosphatidylethanolamine-binding proteins (PEBPs). These conserved regulators of signaling networks are found in plants, animals and other organisms.

In a previous 2021 study, researchers from Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, University of Münster and Twyman Research Management demonstrated that a PEBP found in the tobacco plant, NtFT4, improves vitality, growth and protein yield when transfected in human cells. In a recent study, published in Aging (Aging-US) Volume 14, Issue 7, these same researchers transfected plant PEBPs in animals, and animal PEBPs in plants, to further investigate changes in activity within their respective aging processes. The research paper was published on April 8, 2022, and entitled, “The tobacco phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein NtFT4 increases the lifespan of Drosophila melanogaster by interacting with the proteostasis network.”

“To investigate the functions of PEBPs in more detail, we undertook interspecies analysis and determined the molecular, cellular and organism-level effects of animal PEBPs expressed in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and plant PEBPs expressed in Drosophila.”

The Study

Specifically, the team used tobacco plant PEBPs (NtFT2 and NtFT4), fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) PEBPs (CG7054 and Pebp1) and human PEBPs (RKIP and hPEBP4). They found that the expression of animal PEBPs in the thale cress (Arabidopsis) and tobacco plants had no effect on flowering or growth. However, the expression of tobacco PEBPs in animals did have an intriguing impact. The researchers observed that the tobacco PEBP NtFT4 increased the lifespan of fruit flies by interacting with the proteostasis network—through mechanisms such as heat shock protein 26 (HSP26). NtFT4 expression in older flies promoted longevity by prolonging Hsp26 gene expression and maintaining protein integrity. After the PEBP CG7054 was knocked down in fruit flies, overall lifespan significantly decreased and approximately 20% of adult flies died within two days.

“In contrast, the expression of plant PEBPs in Drosophila increased the adult fly lifespan by up to one third, whereas the silencing of the endogenous PEBP CG7054 reduced longevity.”

Conclusion

“The heterologous expression of NtFT4 in flies revealed new aspects of PEBP activity that point to a role in proteostasis, improving health and lifespan [41].”

This study provides new insights into the role of PEBPs in plants and animals and how they might contribute to the aging process. Plants may use different cellular mechanisms than animals when it comes to aging-related processes such as the regulation of signaling networks. The results of this study highlight the unique role that plants may play in understanding the aging process. Further studies are needed to better understand the molecular mechanisms behind these effects, as well as their potential applications for aging interventions in humans.

“We found that heterologous expression of the tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) PEBP NtFT4 in Drosophila melanogaster significantly increased the lifespan of adult flies and reduced age-related locomotor decline. Similarly, overexpression of the Drosophila ortholog CG7054 increased longevity, whereas its suppression by RNA interference had the opposite effect.”

Click here to read the full research paper published by Aging (Aging-US).

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Trending With Impact: Underlying Mechanisms of Replicative Senescence

Published on the cover of Aging’s Volume 14, Issue 7, researchers conducted a new study investigating the role of IGFBP5 in replicative senescence.

cell division illustration

The Trending With Impact series highlights Aging (Aging-US) publications that attract higher visibility among readers around the world online, in the news, and on social media—beyond normal readership levels. Look for future science news about the latest trending publications here, and at Aging-US.com.

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In 1961, Leonard Hayflick and Paul Moorhead proposed a theory later named the Hayflick Limit. They discovered that a normal human cell can divide between 50 and 70 times before it can no longer proliferate and eventually dies. Researchers have since continued to explore this phenomenon and, today, this aging process is known as cellular (replicative) senescence.

“There are currently several experimental models of cellular senescence. Hayflick and Moorhead observed that primary human fibroblasts in culture exhibit a limited proliferative capacity [6]. This growth arrest during passages is called replicative senescence.”

This permanent cessation of the cell cycle is universally found in biology due to known and unknown causes, including the shortening of telomeres. While telomere shortening plays an important role, it is not the only event responsible for inducing cellular senescence. Thus, researchers have spent decades under the microscope experimenting with cellular models of replicative senescence.

In a new study released on April 4, 2022, researchers from Sapporo Medical University in Sapporo, Japan, investigated mechanisms of replicative senescence in vitro. Their trending research paper was published on the cover of Aging (Aging-US) Volume 14, Issue 7, and entitled, “Downregulation of IGFBP5 contributes to replicative senescence via ERK2 activation in mouse embryonic fibroblasts.”

The Study

Cellular senescence is typically characterized by cell growth arrest, an increase of cells positive for SA-β -gal staining, and upregulation of p16 and p19. To begin this study, the team cultured embryonic mouse fibroblasts (MEFs) and conducted cell passages according to the 3T3 method. They found that the MEFs underwent senescence after the 5th passage (P5). The team also found that at P8, the expression of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 5 (IGFBP5) mRNA was significantly reduced when compared with that of P2 MEFs.

Next, the team performed a knockdown of IGFBP5 in the MEF cells. Results showed that IGFBP5 knockdown induced premature cellular senescence in P2 MEFs. Knockdown of IGFBP5 increased phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) but did not affect expression levels of Akt or p16 repressors. The researchers also found that supplementing the cell culture growth medium with additional exogenous IGFBP5 delayed growth arrest and reduced replicative senescence in the MEF cells.

“To examine whether activated ERK1 and ERK2 by IGFBP5 knockdown are involved in the induction of senescent phenotypes, we examined effects of knockdown of ERK1 and ERK2 using a combination with IGFBP5 siRNA in P2 MEFs.”

Upon further analysis of ERK1/2’s role in IGFBP5-knockdown cells, the team found that the silencing of ERK2, and not ERK1, blocked the increase in the number of SA-β-GAL-positive cells. ERK2 knockdown attenuated the reduction in the cell number and upregulation of p16 and p21 in IGFBP5-knockdown cells. This study provides evidence that downregulation of IGFBP5 contributes to replicative senescence via ERK2 activation in mouse embryonic fibroblasts.

Conclusion

For the first time, the role of IGFBP5 in replicative senescence was demonstrated in MEFs. Their findings suggest that ERK2 underlies cellular senescence induced by IGFBP5 downregulation. Cellular senescence appears to be a complex process with many moving parts. While more research is needed to fully understand the role of IGFBP5 in replicative senescence, this study provides new insights into the underlying mechanisms involved in this complex process.

“In conclusion, the results of the present study demonstrated that downregulation of IGFBP5 during serial passage contributes to replicative senescence via an ERK2-dependent mechanism (Figure 6). The results suggest that IGFBP5 counteracts replicative senescence in MEFs.”

Figure 6. Schematic summary of our findings. MEFs at early passage secrete certain levels of IGFBP5. Secreted IGFBP5 proteins inhibit MEK/ERK2 by attenuating their phosphorylation (P) in the neighboring cell, leading to suppression of cellular senescence. IGFBP5 secretion is decreased during serial passage, causing activation of ERK2 and cellular senescence.
Figure 6. Schematic summary of our findings. MEFs at early passage secrete certain levels of IGFBP5. Secreted IGFBP5 proteins inhibit MEK/ERK2 by attenuating their phosphorylation (P) in the neighboring cell, leading to suppression of cellular senescence. IGFBP5 secretion is decreased during serial passage, causing activation of ERK2 and cellular senescence.

Click here to read the full research paper published by Aging (Aging-US).

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Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers bi-monthly in all fields of aging research. These papers are available at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals have the power to benefit humanity from the inside out by rapidly disseminating information that may be freely shared with researchers, colleagues, family, and friends around the world.

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Protein Linked to Aging-Related Muscle Loss

Researchers investigated the mitochondrial protein GRSF1 for its role in the physiology of skeletal muscle aging.

Figure 1. Expression of GRSF1 across myogenesis. (A) RT-qPCR analysis of GRSF1 mRNA levels in proliferating (0 h) and differentiating (24-120 h) human myoblasts; n=3. GRSF1 mRNA levels were normalized to the levels of GAPDH mRNA. (B) Western blot analysis of the levels of GRSF1 at the indicated times during differentiation; n=2. (C) Immunofluorescence detection of GRSF1 (green) and mitochondria (red) in proliferating myoblasts and differentiating myotubes. Arrowheads indicate GRSF1 signals; n=3. Scale bar, 50 μm.
Figure 1. Expression of GRSF1 across myogenesis. (A) RT-qPCR analysis of GRSF1 mRNA levels in proliferating (0 h) and differentiating (24-120 h) human myoblasts; n=3. GRSF1 mRNA levels were normalized to the levels of GAPDH mRNA. (B) Western blot analysis of the levels of GRSF1 at the indicated times during differentiation; n=2. (C) Immunofluorescence detection of GRSF1 (green) and mitochondria (red) in proliferating myoblasts and differentiating myotubes. Arrowheads indicate GRSF1 signals; n=3. Scale bar, 50 μm.
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Skeletal muscle is responsible for regulating physical movement and comprises between 30 and 40% of the human body’s mass. The loss of skeletal muscle has major impacts on overall health and quality of life—leading to frailty and a decreased ability to perform activities of daily living. The most common cause of muscle loss is aging, and a prevalent pattern of aging-associated muscular decline is known as sarcopenia.

“With advancing age, the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, known as sarcopenia, leads to reduced muscle strength and diminishes individual mobility, quality of life, and lifespan [12].”

In a research paper published in Aging (Aging-US) Volume 13, Issue 11, researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging and Chungnam National University investigated a protein that may play a role in aging-related muscle loss. Their paper was published on June 2, 2021, and entitled, “GRSF1 deficiency in skeletal muscle reduces endurance in aged mice.”

Skeletal Muscles and Mitochondrial Proteins

The healthy operation of skeletal muscle is dependent on well-regulated mitochondrial functioning. Skeletal muscle is extremely rich in mitochondria, as mitochondria supply muscle cells with the energy they need to help move the body, known as adenosine 5′-triphosphate, or ATP. With age, the mitochondria in skeletal muscles begin to progressively malfunction. The exact mechanisms involved in this decline have not been fully elucidated.

“In aging skeletal muscle, mitochondria display reduced function, altered morphology, and increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which contribute to a progressive loss of muscle mass and strength [1314].”

The guanine-rich RNA sequence binding factor 1 (GRSF1) protein is widely distributed in mammalian organs, and primarily enriched in mitochondria organelles. This makes the skeletal muscle an ideal organ in which researchers can study GRSF1, and other mitochondrial proteins, to investigate their role in aging-related processes such as sarcopenia. Although GRSF1 has been well-studied for its role in maintaining mitochondrial function, the involvement of GRSF1 in skeletal muscle aging had not yet been investigated until this study.

The Study

In this study, the researchers used Grsf1cKO mice—a mouse model in which GRSF1 is specifically knocked out in murine skeletal muscle cells. The mice appeared normal until 7-9 months of age. At 16-18 months of age, however, the researchers observed a reduction in muscle endurance compared to wild-type (WT) control mice. The authors postulated that these results suggested the loss of GRSF1 in skeletal muscle may not alter muscle function until later in life.

“The Grsf1cKO mice at this age ran about a 30% shorter treadmill distance on average relative to WT controls (Figure 3A).”

Upon further transcriptomic analysis, the team found that more than 200 muscle genes were differentially expressed in the GRSF1-deficient mice compared to the control mice. Some of the differentially expressed RNAs that were elevated in the Grsf1cKO mice were the hypoxia-inducible Mgarp mRNA, the mRNA encoding Sarcolipin (SLN), the pro-inflammatory proteins CXCL10 and NFKB2, and the transcription factor ATF3. The authors suggested that increased SLN mRNA may also potentially contribute to the decline in skeletal muscle endurance seen in Grsf1cKO mice.

“The reduction of endurance in Grsf1cKO muscle was accompanied by differential expression of several mRNAs, including some that encoded mitochondrial proteins, inflammatory proteins, ion transporters, and transcription factors (Mgarp, Sln, Cxcl10, Nfkb2, and Atf3 mRNAs).”

Conclusion

The researchers found that the absence of GRSF1 in murine skeletal muscle cells led to a decrease in muscle endurance. Initially, the researchers had anticipated that GRSF1 knock-out would lead to a dramatic loss in muscle function. However, their study revealed that the function of GRSF1 in skeletal muscle appeared to only be moderate. Overall, this is an important finding, as it provides new insights into the role of GRSF1 in muscle physiology and opens up new avenues for research into potential therapies for aging-related muscle loss.

“This modest in vivo effect suggests that there are redundant or compensatory mechanisms that prevent catastrophic damage from GRSF1 loss in aging muscle, and that identifying such factors might be of therapeutic benefit in diseases caused by impaired function of muscle mitochondria and impaired muscle regeneration.”

Click here to read the full priority research paper published in Aging (Aging-US).

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Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers bi-monthly in all fields of aging research. These papers are available at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals have the power to benefit humanity from the inside out by rapidly disseminating information that may be freely shared with researchers, colleagues, family, and friends around the world.

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Trending With Impact: Plasma Injection Improves Poor Response to IVF

Researchers investigated the effects of injecting platelet-rich plasma in women with a poor ovarian response to in vitro fertilization (IVF).

IVF

The Trending With Impact series highlights Aging (Aging-US) publications that attract higher visibility among readers around the world online, in the news, and on social media—beyond normal readership levels. Look for future science news about the latest trending publications here, and at Aging-US.com.

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In a day and age when women and men are beginning families later in the life cycle, women of advanced age (or with some health conditions) often have trouble becoming pregnant. Today, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a widely-used form of assisted reproductive technology. This manual process of fertilization is achieved first by combining an egg and a sperm outside of the uterus and then helping the fertilized egg become implanted in the uterus.

The world’s first IVF baby was born in Lancashire, England, in 1978. Since then, this technique has solved reproductive issues for millions of women and men around the world. While this procedure has helped build many families, there is a subset of reproductively challenged women who exhibit resistance to IVF. Researchers have observed accelerated ovarian aging in women who demonstrate a poor ovarian response (POR) to IVF.

“These women are labeled ‘poor ovarian response’ (POR) or ‘poor responders’ due to a combination of low parameters of ovarian reserve and previous low oocyte yield after ovarian stimulation.”

In previous small-scale cohort and in vitro studies, exposure to platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has demonstrated improvements in ovarian tissue repair, regeneration and follicular development. In a new study, published in Aging (Aging-US) on March 22, 2022, researchers— from Acibadem Maslak HospitalAcibadem UniversityIVI RMA New JerseyThomas Jefferson University, and Yale School of Medicine—sought to validate these small-scale results by assessing the effects of intra-ovarian injection of autologous PRP in a cohort of 510 women with POR. Their trending research paper can be found in Volume 14, Issue 6, entitled, “Ovarian reserve parameters and IVF outcomes in 510 women with poor ovarian response (POR) treated with intraovarian injection of autologous platelet rich plasma (PRP).”

The Study

This prospective observational study took place in Acibadem Maslak Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2020. The study’s inclusion criteria admitted women who were diagnosed with POR, between 30 and 45 years old, had at least a one-year history of infertility, and had at least one ovary. After the exclusion criteria were accounted for, 510 women with POR were included in the study. Patients were divided into three groups for subgroup assessment: patients younger than 38 years old, patients between 38 and 42 years old and patients between 42 and 45 years old.

Before IVF, autologous PRP was administered to participants through intra-ovarian injections. (Learn more about PRP and IVF materials and methods in the study.) The team then assessed the effects of PRP on ovarian reserve parameters and IVF outcomes. Ovarian reserve parameters included antral follicle count (AFC), ovarian volume, serum anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) level, and serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level. IVF outcomes were defined by the number of oocytes retrieved (an oocyte is an immature ovum, or egg cell) and the number and quality of embryos that developed, including embryos in cleavage and blastocyst stages.

The Results

Compared to baseline measures before treatment, PRP injections resulted in higher AFC, higher serum AMH, lower serum FSH, and a higher number of mature oocytes and cleavage/blastocyst stage embryos. In this cohort of women with POR, the PRP intervention yielded a total pregnancy rate of 20.5% and a sustained implantation/livebirth rate of 12.9%.

“After PRP injection, 22 women (4.3%) conceived spontaneously, 14 (2.7%) were lost to follow up, and 474 (92.9%) attempted IVF. Among women who attempted IVF, 312 (65.8%) generated embryos and underwent embryo transfer, 83 (17.5%) achieved a pregnancy, and 54 (11.4%) achieved sustained implantation/live birth (SI/LB).”

The researchers found that the greatest increase in IVF outcomes was seen in women 38 years old or younger. They also performed a receiver operating characteristic curve analysis and found that the cut-off for patients who would not benefit from PRP was 40 years old. The authors explained that this was due to a lack of ovarian response.

Conclusion

The researchers suggest that PRP may be considered for IVF cycles in women with POR, especially for those younger than 38 years old. However, the authors also caution that PRP should not be recommended as part of routine treatments until further prospective randomized trials test for clinical efficacy in wider clinical applications. Intra-ovarian injection of autologous PRP may someday be the standard of care for women with POR seeking IVF.

“In conclusion, intraovarian injection of autologous PRP might be considered in women with POR. The ideal population that may benefit from this approach can be summarized as patients <40 years old, with an FSH < 21.2 mIU/mL, AMH > 0.23 ng/ml, with at least one antral follicle, and a mean ovarian volume > 4.30 cm3.”

Click here to read the full research paper published by Aging (Aging-US).

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Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers bi-monthly in all fields of aging research. These papers are available at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals have the power to benefit humanity from the inside out by rapidly disseminating information that may be freely shared with researchers, colleagues, family, and friends around the world.

For media inquiries, please contact media@impactjournals.com.

PandaOmics Identifies Dual-Targets of Aging and Age-Related Diseases

Researchers used PandaOmics software to identify potential drug targets that could treat both aging and age-related diseases.

Researchers used PandaOmics software to identify potential drug targets that could treat both aging and age-related diseases.

The Trending With Impact series highlights Aging (Aging-US) publications that attract higher visibility among readers around the world online, in the news, and on social media—beyond normal readership levels. Look for future science news about the latest trending publications here, and at Aging-US.com.

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What if drugs designed to treat conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis could at the same time provide patients with anti-aging benefits? On March 29, 2022, researchers—from Insilico MedicineUniversity of ChicagoGeorge Mason UniversityUniversity of Liverpool, and Buck Institute for Research on Aging—released a new study on the cover of Aging (Aging-US) Volume 14, Issue 6, about Insilico’s next-generation artificial intelligence (AI)-powered discovery software, called the PandaOmics platform. Their trending research paper is entitled, “Hallmarks of aging-based dual-purpose disease and age-associated targets predicted using PandaOmics AI-powered discovery engine.”

PandaOmics

The PandaOmics platform is a software based on an enormous database of research that is constantly being updated and refined. The database consists of over 1,500 diseases and 10,000 disease subtypes, approximately 1.9 trillion data points derived from over 10 million samples with microarrays, RNA sequencing, proteomes, methylomes, and other data types, 1.3 million drug compounds and biologics, and information embedded from over 40 million text-based sources and documents. This evolving omics database is then used to inform an intricate AI algorithm designed to identify patterns within the data.

The Hallmarks of Aging

While the underlying molecular mechanisms of aging are still technically in debate, researchers have basically agreed upon a consistent series of biochemical changes that have been identified in the aging process, known as the hallmarks of aging. There are nine classic hallmarks of aging, as well as three newer additions, which include: 1) altered intercellular communications, 2) cellular senescence, 3) deregulated nutrient signaling, 4) epigenetic shift, 5) genomic instability, 6) impaired proteostasis, 7) mitochondrial dysfunction, 8) stem cell exhaustion, 9) telomere attrition, 10) inflammation, 11) extracellular matrix stiffness, and 12) retrotransposons. 

Researchers have observed that substantial overlap exists between genes involved in the hallmarks of aging and in age-associated diseases (AADs). The goal of this study was to use the PandaOmics platform and the hallmarks of aging to identify dual-purpose drug targets that can be used to treat both aging and AADs.

“Hence, identifying potential targets that are implicated in multiple age-associated diseases, and also play a role in the basic biology of aging, may have substantial benefits.”

The Study

In this study, the researchers used the PandaOmics platform to generate a list of promising new or traditional aging-associated targets that may be used for drug discovery and repurposing. The team started by investigating genes that are dysregulated in multiple aging-associated diseases, as well as in aging itself. The researchers decided only to analyze 33 diseases. This decision was based on whether or not age is a strong risk factor for the disease’s onset, if there are strong confounding factors and on the availability of public datasets. Cancers and cardiovascular diseases were excluded from this list of selected diseases (this list can be found in the study).

The selected diseases were separated into AADs (n=14) and non-age-associated diseases (NAADs) (n=19). The team then programmed the PandaOmics platform to identify aging-associated patterns by prioritizing the top dysregulated genes in these diseases based on their involvement in the hallmarks of aging. The researchers compared the top-AAD and -NAAD genes and identified 145 overlapping common targets.

Results

“In this study, we used a variety of target identification and prioritization techniques offered by the AI-powered PandaOmics platform, to propose a list of promising novel aging-associated targets that may be used for drug discovery. We also propose a list of more classical targets that may be used for drug repurposing within each hallmark of aging.”

They found that most aging-associated targets were not specific to a single hallmark but were instead involved in multiple hallmarks. The team also found that most of the top targets played a role in the 10) inflammation and 11) extracellular matrix stiffness hallmarks of aging. Four targets were connected to all 12 hallmarks; these targets were AKT1, MTOR, SIRT1, and IGF1. Primary conclusions drawn from the study were that the hallmarks of aging are implicated in multiple AADs and NAADs, and that these hallmarks can be used to identify aging-associated targets for drug discovery and repurposing.

Figure 3. Targets associated with hallmarks of aging.
Figure 3. Targets associated with hallmarks of aging. 

Conclusion

The researchers were forthcoming about limitations in this study. Nevertheless, this exciting research provides valuable insight into the use of AI-powered discovery engines to uncover novel aging-associated targets for drug discovery. The PandaOmics platform is a valuable resource for aging researchers and offers the potential to identify new or traditional targets for the treatment of aging and age-related diseases.

“In conclusion, we successfully established an approach to identify potential dual-purpose targets for aging and AADs, enabling biologists and clinicians to further investigate their therapeutic potential in a cost-saving and time-efficient manner for drug discovery. These promising results underscore the ability of PandaOmics to identify novel targets not only for specific disorders, but across multiple types of diseases.”

Click here to read the full cover paper published in Aging (Aging-US).

AGING (AGING-US) VIDEOS: YouTube | LabTube | Aging-US.com

Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers bi-monthly in all fields of aging research. These papers are available at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals have the power to benefit humanity from the inside out by rapidly disseminating information that may be freely shared with researchers, colleagues, family, and friends around the world.

For media inquiries, please contact media@impactjournals.com.

Trending With Impact: How Biological Sex Impacts Alzheimer’s Disease

Men and women are disproportionately impacted by Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Researchers investigated AD mice for potential sex differences in synaptic function.

Figure 1. The diagram shows sex-specific alterations in plasticity and memory and the associated changes in amyloid beta (Aβ) pathology and inflammatory response in APP/PS1 mice.
Figure 1. The diagram shows sex-specific alterations in plasticity and memory and the associated changes in amyloid beta (Aβ) pathology and inflammatory response in APP/PS1 mice.

The Trending With Impact series highlights Aging (Aging-US) publications that attract higher visibility among readers around the world online, in the news, and on social media—beyond normal readership levels. Look for future science news about the latest trending publications here, and at Aging-US.com.

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As the worldwide elderly population continues to expand, the symptoms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), are simultaneously increasing around the globe. Researchers are driven to investigate new ways to detect and treat AD in earlier stages—before symptoms become more difficult or impossible to overturn. An important piece of data to consider is that dementia is more prevalent among women than among men; dementia affects 8.1 % of women and 5.4% of men. Many AD studies have not used gender/sex as a variable to cross-examine their research findings. This information may be a key factor that leads to developing more efficacious strategies for AD detection and treatment in all patients, and especially in women.

“In the long run, the underrepresentation of female biology in biomedical research will hamper the development of effective drugs with negative consequences on women’s health.”

In a recent editorial paper published on March 12, 2022, by Aging (Aging-US) in Volume 14, Issue 5, researchers from the National University of Singapore discussed the importance of understanding sex differences in Alzheimer’s disease. Their trending editorial paper, entitled, “Sex matters in Alzheimer’s disease?“, was based on results from their previous study published in 2021.

Sex-Specific Synaptic Dysfunction

In AD patients, researchers have observed a loss of function in the sites where nerve cells communicate with each other—in the synapses. Synaptic dysfunction is an early event in AD and can be observed years before other symptoms appear. In the research study being discussed in this editorial, the research team examined differences between the synaptic activity of male and female mice with two mutations associated with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (APP/PS1).

“To characterize molecular changes in the AD brain that is attributed to sex differences, we performed RNA sequencing and immunohistochemistry of the hippo-campus and showed accelerated pathology, stronger immune response and higher microglial activation in AD female mice compared to males [5].”

Their findings revealed a number of differentially expressed genes and plasticity-related genes were sex-regulated. Plasticity-related genes are important for learning, memory and other cognitive abilities. The study also found that female AD mice had an accelerated Alzheimer’s pathology, stronger immune response and higher microglial activation—all of which contribute to dementia symptoms. These results suggested that sex differences in early-stage synaptic function may have important implications for understanding the higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in women, and the related mechanisms may be potential targets for diagnosis and treatment.

Conclusion

In their editorial paper, the authors acknowledge that, although more research needs to be done on this topic, these findings could lead to new strategies for detecting and treating Alzheimer’s disease. The authors conclude by writing that synaptic dysfunction among males and females with Alzheimer’s disease revealed sex-regulated differentially expressed genes and plasticity-related genes as potential targets for early AD intervention. Overall, sex differences should be considered when developing custom-tailored strategies for early AD detection, prevention and treatment.

​​”Our work, along with others in this field, also emphasises the importance of including biological sex as variable in many research settings, particularly studies exploring aging [7] and how they impact different disease states [8].”

Click here to read the full editorial paper published by Aging (Aging-US).

Click here to read Aging’s Special Collection on Alzheimer’s Disease

AGING (AGING-US) VIDEOS: YouTube | LabTube | Aging-US.com

Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers bi-monthly in all fields of aging research. These papers are available at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals have the power to benefit humanity from the inside out by rapidly disseminating information that may be freely shared with researchers, colleagues, family, and friends around the world.

For media inquiries, please contact media@impactjournals.com.

Trending With Impact: Intestinal Balance, Colorectal Cancer and Muc4

Researchers investigated the functional significance of Muc4 in intestinal homeostasis and colorectal cancer progression.

Figure 3. Absence of Muc4 alters other mucins expression.
Figure 3. Absence of Muc4 alters other mucins expression.

The Trending With Impact series highlights Aging (Aging-US) publications that attract higher visibility among readers around the world online, in the news, and on social media—beyond normal readership levels. Look for future science news about the latest trending publications here, and at Aging-US.com.

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With age, humans undergo bodily changes which include a decline in organ and tissue function. The average age men and women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC) is 68 and 72 years old, respectively. Healthy intestinal epithelial cells are usually lined with a sufficient layer of mucus; important components in this mucus layer, called mucins, help to maintain physiological homeostasis. While transmembrane mucin 4 (Muc4) has been found to be overexpressed in pancreatic, ovarian and breast cancers, Muc4 expression is decreased in patients with CRC. The functional role and implications of Muc4 in CRC’s intestinal pathology have not yet been adequately investigated. 

Researchers—from the University of Nebraska Medical CenterBaylor College of MedicineUniversity of California San Diego, and VA San Diego Healthcare System—sought to better understand the role of Muc4 in CRC by developing genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models. Their priority research paper was published as the cover of Aging-US Volume 14, Issue 5, and entitled, “Depletion of transmembrane mucin 4 (Muc4) alters intestinal homeostasis in a genetically engineered mouse model of colorectal cancer.

“Therefore, to understand the functional significance of MUC4 in intestinal homeostasis and CRC progression, we developed a GEM model by crossing mice carrying a conditional mutation of Apc [adenomatous polyposis coli] gene with colon-specific caudal type homeobox transcription factor 2 (Cdx2)-Cre fused with estrogen receptor.”

The Study

The researchers first conducted an analysis of CRC patients using The Cancer Genome Atlas. They found that CRC patients had decreased Muc4 levels compared to normal patients and that lower Muc4 expression is associated with a worse prognosis in CRC patients. In CRC, the most frequent mutations were found to occur in the Apc gene. Therefore, the researchers tested control mice and two mouse models in this study. The AMC GEM model had an Apc mutation, and Muc4 was knocked out. The AC GEM model was AMC’s contemporary littermate control and had only the Apc mutation—Muc4 was not knocked out. Tamoxifen was then intraperitoneally administered to exert conditional control of gene expression in the mice.

Next, the team conducted mucin staining to characterize goblet cell function. Goblet cells protect the intestine by secreting mucins. In addition to Apc mutations, many CRC patients have Kras gene mutations. Therefore, the researchers also crossed the AMC mouse model with a mutated Kras mouse model. Finally, the researchers examined two human CRC cell lines in vitro. They performed a knockdown of Muc4 and conducted a cellular fractionation study of the cell lines.

“Knockdown (KD) of MUC4 increased the expression of β-catenin, cyclin-D1, and CD44 at the transcript level in LS-180 and HCT-8 cells (Supplementary Figure 3C).”

The Results

The researchers found that Muc4 deletion in the AMC mice resulted in more colorectal tumors with high-grade dysplasia compared to AC and normal mice. Immunohistochemistry staining revealed that AMC and AC mice did not produce any visible goblet cells.

“We observed that in both AMC and AC mice, there was a complete absence or loss of staining in the goblet cells of colon adenoma (Figure 2E), suggesting that disruption of goblet cell function alters the mucin production.”

Muc4 knock-out in AMC mice was associated with an upregulation of Muc13 and a significant loss of Muc2 and Fam3D in CRC tissues. The researchers observed that Muc4 deletion resulted in defective mucus barrier function, reduced intestinal homeostasis and up-regulated β-catenin signaling. In the Kras/AMC mice, they found that the addition of the Kras mutation further aggravated tumors and reduced survival.

Conclusion

The research team found that, in the AMC GEM model (lacking mucin expression), there was an increase in inflammation, DNA damage, tumor burden, and CRC cell proliferation. The study’s findings provide evidence that Muc4 expression is essential for the proper maintenance of the mucus layer and intestinal homeostasis. Furthermore, this research suggests that reduced expression of Muc4 may be associated with aging and a predisposition to colorectal cancer.

“In conclusion, our study suggests that Muc4 has a protective role in CRC progression in an Apc mutant GEM mice model. Muc4 maintains the intestinal homeostasis by upregulation of Muc2 and Fam3D (guardians of the gut) and downregulation of cancer-promoting mucin (Muc13). Additionally, presence of Muc4 prevents the invasion of microbiota and reduction of proinflammatory cytokines and decrease in epithelial cell proliferation by inhibiting β-catenin, c-Myc and CD44 expression. Additional studies are needed to understand the role of Muc4 in conditional KO mouse models and various sub-types of CRC.”

Click here to read the full priority research paper published by Aging (Aging-US).

AGING (AGING-US) VIDEOS: YouTube | LabTube | Aging-US.com

Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers bi-monthly in all fields of aging research. These papers are available to read at no cost to readers on Aging-us.com. Open-access journals offer information that has the potential to benefit our societies from the inside out and may be shared with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and other researchers, far and wide.

For media inquiries, please contact media@impactjournals.com.

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