Aging’s Top 10 Papers of 2021

Aging's Top 10 papers of 2021

Read the 10 most-viewed papers on Aging-US.com of 2021.

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#10: Iron: an underrated factor in aging

Author: Dennis Mangan

Institution: MTOR LLC

Quote: “Blocking iron absorption through drugs or natural products extends lifespan. Many life-extending interventions, such as rapamycin, calorie restriction, and old plasma dilution can be explained by the effects they have on iron absorption, excretion, and metabolism.”


#9: Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program

Author: Dale E. Bredesen

Institutions: University of California Los Angeles and Buck Institute for Research on Aging

Quote: “This report describes a novel, comprehensive, and personalized therapeutic program that is based on the underlying pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, and which involves multiple modalities designed to achieve metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND).”


#8: Shorter telomere lengths in patients with severe COVID-19 disease

Authors: Raul Sanchez-Vazquez, Ana Guío-Carrión, Antonio Zapatero-Gaviria, Paula Martínez, and Maria A. Blasco

Institutions: Spanish National Cancer Research Center – CNIO and Field Hospital COVID-19, IFEMA

Quote: “The incidence of severe manifestations of COVID-19 increases with age with older patients showing the highest mortality, suggesting that molecular pathways underlying aging contribute to the severity of COVID-19. One mechanism of aging is the progressive shortening of telomeres, which are protective structures at chromosome ends.”


#7: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy alleviates vascular dysfunction and amyloid burden in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model and in elderly patients

Authors: Ronit Shapira, Amos Gdalyahu, Irit Gottfried, Efrat Sasson, Amir Hadanny, Shai Efrati, Pablo Blinder, and Uri Ashery 

Institutions: Tel Aviv University and Assaf Harofeh Medical Center

Quote: “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is in clinical use for a wide range of medical conditions. In the current study, we exposed 5XFAD mice, a well-studied AD model that presents impaired cognitive abilities, to HBOT and then investigated the therapeutical effects using two-photon live animal imaging, behavioral tasks, and biochemical and histological analysis.”


#6: Fighting the storm: could novel anti-TNFα and anti-IL-6 C. sativa cultivars tame cytokine storm in COVID-19?

Authors: Anna Kovalchuk, Bo Wang, Dongping Li, Rocio Rodriguez-Juarez, Slava Ilnytskyy, Igor Kovalchuk, and Olga Kovalchuk

Institutions: Pathway Research Inc.University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge

Quote: “Cannabis sativa has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and is under investigation for several potential therapeutic applications against autoinflammatory diseases and cancer. Here, we hypothesized that the extracts of novel C. sativa cultivars may be used to downregulate the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and pathways involved in inflammation and fibrosis.”


#5: Examining sleep deficiency and disturbance and their risk for incident dementia and all-cause mortality in older adults across 5 years in the United States

Authors: Rebecca Robbins, Stuart F. Quan, Matthew D. Weaver, Gregory Bormes, Laura K. Barger, and Charles A. Czeisler

Institutions: Brigham and Women’s HospitalHarvard Medical School and Boston College

Quote: “Sleep disturbance and deficiency are common among older adults and have been linked with dementia and all-cause mortality. Using nationally representative data, we examine the relationship between sleep disturbance and deficiency and their risk for incident dementia and all-cause mortality among older adults.”


#4: Rejuvant®, a potential life-extending compound formulation with alpha-ketoglutarate and vitamins, conferred an average 8 year reduction in biological aging, after an average of 7 months of use, in the TruAge DNA methylation test

Authors: Oleksandr Demidenko, Diogo Barardo, Valery Budovskii, Robb Finnemore, Francis R. Palmer III, Brian K. Kennedy, and Yelena V. Budovskaya

Institutions: TruMe Inc.National University SingaporePonce de Leon HealthNational University Health System Singapore, and Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR

Quote: “Instead, aging biomarkers, such as DNA methylation (DNAm) clocks, have been developed to monitor biological age. Herein we report a retrospective analysis of DNA methylation age in 42 individuals taking Rejuvant®, an alpha-ketoglutarate based formulation, for an average period of 7 months.”


#3: Aging and rejuvenation – a modular epigenome model

Authors: Priscila Chiavellini, Martina Canatelli-Mallat, Marianne Lehmann, Maria D. Gallardo, Claudia B. Herenu, Jose L. Cordeiro, James Clement, and Rodolfo G. Goya

Institutions: National University of La PlataNational University of CordobaWorld Academy of Art and Science (WAAS), and Betterhumans Inc.

Quote: “The view of aging has evolved in parallel with the advances in biomedical sciences. Long considered as an irreversible process where interventions were only aimed at slowing down its progression, breakthrough discoveries like animal cloning and cell reprogramming have deeply changed our understanding of postnatal development, giving rise to the emerging view that the epigenome is the driver of aging.”


#2: Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial

Authors: Kara N. Fitzgerald, Romilly Hodges, Douglas Hanes, Emily Stack, David Cheishvili, Moshe Szyf, Janine Henkel, Melissa W. Twedt, Despina Giannopoulou, Josette Herdell, Sally Logan, and Ryan Bradley

Institutions: Institute for Functional MedicineAmerican Nutrition AssociationNational University of Natural MedicineAriel UniversityMcGill University, and University of California San Diego

Quote: “Manipulations to slow biological aging and extend healthspan are of interest given the societal and healthcare costs of our aging population. Herein we report on a randomized controlled clinical trial conducted among 43 healthy adult males between the ages of 50-72.”


#1: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases telomere length and decreases immunosenescence in isolated blood cells: a prospective trial

Authors: Yafit Hachmo, Amir Hadanny, Ramzia Abu Hamed, Malka Daniel-Kotovsky, Merav Catalogna, Gregory Fishlev, Erez Lang, Nir Polak, Keren Doenyas, Mony Friedman, Yonatan Zemel, Yair Bechor, and Shai Efrati

Institutions: Shamir Medical CenterTel Aviv University and Bar Ilan University

Quote: “At the cellular level, two key hallmarks of the aging process include telomere length (TL) shortening and cellular senescence. Repeated intermittent hyperoxic exposures, using certain hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) protocols, can induce regenerative effects which normally occur during hypoxia. The aim of the current study was to evaluate whether HBOT affects TL and senescent cell concentrations in a normal, non-pathological, aging adult population.”


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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 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.

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Trending With Impact: Are Our Muscles Intrinsically Impaired by Aging?

In a priority research paper published by Aging-US in January of 2022, researchers investigated aged muscle stem cells and their ability to sense and respond to mechanical cues.

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3D Illustration of muscle tissue
3D Illustration of muscle tissue

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.

IIs muscle wasting a fate humans can avoid, or will the problem of aging-related muscle loss only be resolved when the mystery of aging is solved? Researchers—from Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamUniversity of AmsterdamSorbonne UniversitéAmsterdam University Medical Center VUmcUniversité Catholique de LouvainKU Leuven, and Institut NeuroMyoGène—conducted a study aimed at elucidating whether muscle stem cells are inherently impaired by the aging process in their ability to sense and respond to mechanical cues. Their priority research paper was published in January of 2022 on the cover of Aging (Aging-US) Volume 14, Issue 1, and entitled, “Reduced growth rate of aged muscle stem cells is associated with impaired mechanosensitivity.”

Muscle Stem Cells

Muscle stem cells (MuSCs) are stem cells located within skeletal muscle tissues. MuSCs function to repair Muscle stem cells (MuSCs) are stem cells located within skeletal muscle tissues. MuSCs function to repair damaged myofibers and give rise to new skeletal muscle cells. These self-renewing stem cells are involved in muscle growth, repair and regeneration. As we age, MuSCs decline in number and lose their potential to regenerate damaged myofibers, leading to sarcopenia. The researchers in this study hypothesized that the responsiveness of aged MuSCs is impared by the aging process both physically and mechanically.

“We postulated that aged MuSCs are intrinsically impaired in their responsiveness to omnipresent mechanical cues through alterations in MuSC morphology, mechanical properties, and number of integrins, culminating in impaired proliferative capacity.”

The Study

The researchers assessed whether aged MuSCs become impaired in their ability to proliferate, respond to pulsating fluid shear stress (PFSS) mechanical loading, maintain focal adhesion number and/or size after mechanical loading, and in their ability to express the protein-coding gene Integrin Subunit Alpha 7 (ITGA7). 

“Integrins are transmembrane protein receptors that connect MuSCs to the ECM [extracellular matrix] components and are part of focal adhesions [51].”

Young MuSCs (2 months) and aged MuSCs (22 months) were isolated from male mice. Fluorescence-activated cell purification was carried out and cells were cultured. To measure proliferation, images were captured of the cell cultures every 24 hours. Images were also taken pre- and post-PFSS to determine the number of young and aged MuSCs detached from the culture media (focal adhesion) as a result of PFSS treatment. Since nitric oxide (NO) is known to play a role in MuSC activation and muscle regeneration, NO analysis was conducted to measure NO production. To determine MuSC morphology, the researchers carried out immunohistochemistry staining. They also measured MuSC stiffness, deformation, gene expression, and RNA isolation and reverse transcription.

Compared to young MuSCs, the researchers found aged MuSCs had impaired growth. Their results showed that IL-6 gene expression was lower in aged MuSCs, which suggested that aged MuSCs were intrinsically altered in the signaling pathways governing proliferation and MuSC function. Aged MuSCs showed an increase in cell volume and reduced cell adhesion after mechanical loading. NO levels in young and aged MuSCs were similar, and PFSS in both cultures resulted in similar increases in NO production. The researchers found decreased ITGA7 expression and reduced pPXN clusters (focal adhesion formation) were involved in altered MuSC function with age. High YAP nuclear localization was found in aged MuSCs, as well as reduced mechanosensitivity.

“Aged MuSCs were less sensitive to shear forces and showed upregulation of less genes, suggesting that the decreased mechanosensitivity was due to decreased integrin protein expression, i.e. ITGA7, ITGA5, and ITGB5, and focal adhesion number.”

Conclusion

The results from this study found that aged MuSCs were intrinsically impaired in their growth rate due to decreased ITGA7 expression and diminished focal adhesion formation. These changes coincided with increased cell volume, decreased MuSC adhesion, altered mechanosensitivity, changed YAP signaling and decreased expression of several genes (including cell cycle genes). The researchers suggest that ITGA7 and pPXN may be potential therapeutic targets to improve aged MuSC function.

“As an implication, a possible therapeutic option could be restoration ITGA7 and focal adhesion number in aged MuSCs, which may help to restore MuSCs adhesion to their niche as well as growth rate of these cells.”

Click here to read the full priority 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 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.

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Trending With Impact: Hair Follicles May Replace Traditional Biopsies

A new device has been developed by researchers to efficiently and painlessly collect hair follicle tissue samples from laboratory mammals, and even humans.

Figure 6. Markers of senescence analysis in hair follicular cells.
Figure 6. Markers of senescence analysis in hair follicular cells.

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.

Laboratory mammals have impacted human-kind far beyond enhancing scientific knowledge in behavioral and environmental research. These animals have greatly contributed to human healthspan and lifespan in countless ways; from validating life-saving cancer therapies to accelerating the future of human anti-aging and longevity interventions. With respect for these salubrious animals, ethical standards (per country) require that researchers handle laboratory mammals with care, and that pain and stress are minimized. Blood and skin tissue samples (biopsies) collected from animals should be replaced whenever possible. For the researchers, this twofold invasive procedure for the animals is also time- and resource-limiting—presenting a bottleneck in the biomedical research process.

“However, we present here a simple method for obtaining biological material in the form of follicular cells from laboratory mice with sufficient quantities and quality for multiple analyses using standard modern molecular biology methods.”

In an effort to efficiently and humanely solve this ethics/logistics problem, researchers—from Palacky UniversityUniversity Hospital OlomoucDanish Cancer Society Research Center, and Karolinska Institute—developed a novel, non-invasive device that can be used to collect tissue samples from hair follicles. They tested the applications of this device and authored a research paper of the study. In December of 2021, their paper was published on the cover of Aging (Aging-US) Volume 13, Issue 23, and entitled, “An efficient, non-invasive approach for in-vivo sampling of hair follicles: design and applications in monitoring DNA damage and aging.”

“As millions of laboratory mice are routinely genotyped globally every year this approach represents a major ethical and logistic breakthrough.”

The Follicular Cells’ Collector

As opposed to traditional biopsies, hair follicle collection is a humane, easy, non-invasive, and painless method of DNA and tissue sample collection. Each hair follicle contains approximately 50 cells—of various cell types. 

“This micro-organ structure also has other advantages in biomarker studies, including suitability for investigations of circadian rhythms [57], and the presence of numerous cell types in a small area, which can be easily distinguished, such as keratinocytes, melanocytes, or perifollicular macrophages and mast cells [810].”

Previously, the limitations of using hair follicles as DNA and tissue samples stemmed from ineffective technology. Many devices involved ordinary tweezers and forceps with high risks for cross-contamination. The researchers termed their novel tissue sample collection device the “follicular cells’ collector.” The follicular cells’ collector is designed with dual pipettes and utilizes a precision vacuum method of hair follicle extraction. The device can be used to comfortably collect DNA and tissue samples from laboratory mammals, and even from humans. 

“Although hair samples have been previously used for that purpose [2931], our sample collection approach may motivate researchers to use them more routinely and widely.”

The Study

To validate that these hair follicle samples contain the required genetic information necessary in most studies, researchers compared murine genotyping results of 151 tail biopsies and 151 hair samples. In order to determine the ability of these samples to detect changes in expression patterns induced by external factors, the team also observed the DNA damage response in hair follicle cells after gamma irradiation and after the topical application of chemical clastogens. Further exploring its potential application in aging research, researchers assayed expression patterns of selected markers of biological age and senescence in murine hair follicular cells. The researchers conducted many other tests and experiments using murine hair follicular cells in this study.

“The speed by which the samples can be collected and processed (e.g. by fixation) is among the biggest advantages of our solution as it can be performed within seconds. This fact limits any potential underlying cellular responses and additional DDR [DNA damage response] caused by cofounding stressing factors related to the withdrawal process [2].”

Conclusion

The researchers found that the follicular cells’ collector method of obtaining mouse hair follicular cells can be successfully used for genotyping, quantitative polymerase chain reaction testing and quantitative immunofluorescence. They also demonstrated that this method can successfully monitor quality and expression level changes of selected proteins—induced by external factors and during natural or experimentally induced aging. 

“Our results highlight the value of hair follicles as biological material for convenient in vivo sampling and processing in both translational research and routine applications, with a broad range of ethical and logistic advantages over currently used biopsy-based approaches.”

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 and other topics. 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.

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Trending With Impact: Aging Reduced by 8 Years With Rejuvant®

A recent study revealed that participants experienced an average 8 year reduction in biological aging after taking Rejuvant® for approximately 7 months.

Anti-aging hourglass

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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Waiting until the end of a subject’s lifespan is quite a leaden method of validating the efficacy of a longevity-based intervention. This method could take researchers generations upon generations to eventually validate an effective intervention—or—this method might not ever yield results seen by the general public. However, researchers may have devised an innovative way to solve this problem.

“If we hope to control the aging process, we need to learn how to measure the rate of aging in shorter time periods.”

Many researchers believe that measuring the rate of human aging can be done faster by using DNA methylation-based aging clocks. Methylation-based clocks are capable of determining human biological aging with impressive accuracy. Hypermethylated and demethylated regions of DNA (CpG islands near specific aging-associated genes) play a key role in turning certain genes on and off throughout the aging process. Therefore, methylation is a biomarker of aging. While there is a short list of currently available biological aging clocks for researchers to use in studies of anti-aging therapies, the TruAge DNA methylation test is preferable in some cases, due to its accessibility, use of simple saliva samples and cost effectiveness.

“For the first time, these biomarkers of aging give scientists the opportunity to study the effects of anti-aging compounds in real-time and directly in humans.”

In a new study, researchers from TruMe LabsNational University of Singapore and Ponce de Leon Health used the TruAge DNA methylation test to validate Rejuvant®—a patent-pending anti-aging dietary supplement. The trial study yielded unprecedented results and the research paper authored by the team was published as the cover of Aging (Aging-US) Volume 13, Issue 22, entitled: “Rejuvant®, a potential life-extending compound formulation with alpha-ketoglutarate and vitamins, conferred an average 8 year reduction in biological aging, after an average of 7 months of use, in the TruAge DNA methylation test”.

The Study

Developed at Ponce de Leon Health, Rejuvant® is composed primarily of a compound called Alpha-Ketoglutarate (AKG). This molecule is naturally produced in humans and functions as a signaling molecule, an energy donor, a precursor to amino acid biosynthesis, and a regulator of epigenetic processes. In humans and other animals, AKG levels gradually decrease with age. Other components of Rejuvant® are calcium and, for males and females, Vitamin A and Vitamin D, respectively. 

“The goal of the study was to determine the effect of Rejuvant® supplementation on human biological aging by measuring DNA methylation.”

Researchers enrolled 42 healthy participants who were on average 64 years of age (43 to 72). Before taking Rejuvant®, all 42 participants completed a survey and their baseline biological age was measured using the TruMe age prediction model. The survey was a self-reported questionnaire including information about diet, alcohol intake, previous consumption of Rejuvant®, health, height and weight, sleep duration, smoking status, exercise frequency, physical activity level, meal frequency, snacking frequency, number of additional dietary supplements consumed and frequency, hair status, education, healthy lifestyle mindset, and trust in dietary supplements. 

Participants (majority male; 28) took two tablets of Rejuvant® daily, for a duration of four to 10 months. Biological age was measured from saliva samples again after taking Rejuvant® for four to 10 months. At the end of the trial, participants completed the same survey. The researchers compared the baseline surveys with the final surveys to check for other confounders contributing to the results in the study. They also used the surveys to select a sub-group of 13 participants who reported no change in diet type, drinking frequency, additional dietary supplements intake, sleep duration, and exercise frequency. They compared this sup-group with the rest of the cohort. They also compared results between males and females, older and younger participants, and participants with higher biological age relative to their chronological age (aging more quickly).

Results and Conclusion

Researchers examined associations between the epigenetic clock, health status, physical fitness, and the effects of Rejuvant® on human biological aging. The researchers were forthcoming about limitations in this study. A control arm was not used, the cohort was relatively small, only one biological aging clock was used, and researchers did not collect other kinds of data relevant to aging. However, the study results showed that Rejuvant® conferred an average eight year reduction in biological aging after approximately seven months of use. The 13 participants in the sub-group saw anti-aging benefits slightly less than the rest of the cohort. Rejuvant® was more effective in chronologically older participants and in participants that were aging more quickly (with a higher biological age relative to their chronological age).

“Future randomized clinical trials will be required to confirm the findings presented here. Nevertheless, the results in this manuscript suggest that Rejuvant® may have significant effects on biological age as measured by DNA methylation of saliva samples.”

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

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Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers monthly in all fields of aging research and other topics. 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.

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Trending With Impact: Worms Reveal Early Event in Neurodegeneration

Researchers examined roundworms to determine the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in progressive neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

From Figure 2. Altered mitochondrial morphology and activity in tauwt-expressing larvae. (truncated)
From Figure 2. Altered mitochondrial morphology and activity in tauwt-expressing larvae. (truncated)

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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Many aging-associated neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, involve the aggregation of abnormal tau in nerve cells (neurons). Normally, tau proteins function to stabilize microtubules in the brain. Tauopathy occurs when tau proteins become misfolded and misshapen (which turns tau into toxic tau). They then continue to proliferate and bind to each other, forming tau oligomers. These tau oligomers are more toxic and have a greater potential to spread tau pathology. Before the tau pathology snowballs into neurodegenerative disorders, the events that lead up to abnormal tau have remained elusive to researchers. 

“While the association between tau levels and energy metabolism is established, it is not clear whether mitochondrial dysfunction is an early pathological feature of high levels of tau or a consequence of its excessive formation of protein aggregates.”

Previous studies have demonstrated an association between tau levels and mitochondrial metabolism, however, determining which one proceeds the other has yet to be fully illuminated. Shedding light on this subject, researchers—from the University of CopenhagenNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging—used a Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans; roundworm/nematode) model of tau to examine mitochondrial changes over time. Their paper was chosen as the cover of Aging (Aging-US) Volume 13, Issue 21, published in November of 2021 and entitled, “Alteration of mitochondrial homeostasis is an early event in a C. elegans model of human tauopathy”.  

The Study

“Here, we utilized transgenic nematodes expressing the full length of wild type tau in neuronal cells and monitored mitochondrial morphology alterations over time.”

To investigate the impact of tau on mitochondrial activity, neuronal function and organismal physiology, the researchers selected and cultured an already characterized nematode strain that expresses the full length of wild type human tau protein. They compared wild type nematodes with tau-expressing nematodes (at various ages) over time using a thrashing assay, mitochondrial imaging, worm tracking software, and western blot analysis. Calcium deregulation was also examined to determine whether or not it is implicated in the impairment of mitochondrial activity in the tau-expressing nematodes. They found that chelating calcium led to restored mitochondrial activity and suggested a link between mitochondrial damage, calcium homeostasis and neuronal impairment in this nematode model.

Figure 2. Altered mitochondrial morphology and activity in tauwt-expressing larvae.
Figure 2. Altered mitochondrial morphology and activity in tauwt-expressing larvae.

Conclusion

“Our findings suggest that defective mitochondrial function is an early pathogenic event of tauopathies, taking place before tau aggregation and undermining neuronal homeostasis and organismal fitness.”

The researchers were forthcoming about limitations in their study, given the differences between human and nematode biology and pathology. Nevertheless, they found evidence that, in this nematode tauopathy model, neurotoxicity depends on protein alterations and mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondrial dysfunction takes place before high levels of tau are detected. Tau mutations may also modulate calcium homeostasis by influencing the main cellular storage sites—the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria.

“Investigating the tight interplay between tau oligomers and energy metabolism will enlighten new avenues for therapeutic strategies to slow or halt the progression of dementia-related diseases such as AD [Alzheimer’s disease].”

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

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Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers monthly in all fields of aging research and other topics. 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.

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Trending With Impact: Retired Sled Dogs in Aging Research

Researchers adopted 103 retired sled dogs for a longitudinal study on canine aging that may one day be used to increase human healthspan and longevity.

sled dogs

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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Whether they are sprinters or distance runners, sled dogs are known for their competitive nature and athletic prowess. With age, however, these athletes eventually run out of steam—just as humans inevitably do. Canines of all breeds are affected by aging, including a loss of resilience, accumulation of molecular damage and age-related diseases. These relatively short-lived, large mammals are one of the few to share environments with humans, and even have access to advanced medical care. Many believe the canine aging process resembles human aging the closest compared to any other animal. 

A team of scientists—from Cornell UniversityNorth Carolina State UniversityTauber Bioinformatic Research Center, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center—saw the opportunities and advantages of studying canine aging in a controlled environment. Co-founders Andrei Gudkov, PhD, Dr Sci, Katerina Andrianova, PhD, and Daria Fleyshman, PhD, established a non-profit organization called Vaika Inc. In 2018, Vaika allowed these researchers to begin collaborating in a longitudinal study on the mechanisms of aging among 103 retired sled dogs. The researchers authored a trending research perspective about the details of their long-term study. In September 2021, their paper was published on the cover of Aging (Aging-US)’s Volume 13, Issue 18, and entitled, “Development of infrastructure for a systemic multidisciplinary approach to study aging in retired sled dogs.”

THE STUDY

The researchers chose to adopt retired sled dogs for this study in particular for a variety of reasons: 1) Based on the type of events they partake in, sled dogs usually have a record of health and performance that can be used for reference as they age. 2) Sled dogs are selected for performance, but are not limited to a particular breed and can be crossbred. This provides a somewhat homogeneous population to study while being less prone to breed-specific biases. 3) Sled dogs are used to working with many handlers, therefore, the transition into the kennel/research facility may be easier for them to adjust to. 4) Over their career, these dogs have been exposed to environmental pathogens in frequent group interactions. This provides the researchers a sufficient immune system model to study. 5) Sled dogs are used to living in packs, but forming short-term bonds—making them adaptable to living with a variety of handlers in a population of 103 other dogs. 

“Thus, it is essential to establish a reference set of ‘healthy aging’ parameters specifically for each dog model, and we see this as one of the main goals of our sled dog study.”

The optics of caring for 103 retired sled dogs between the ages of eight and 11 (when the study began) may initially sound problematic, but all indications suggest that these dogs are living better than many humans. Their 8,254-square foot kennel is located on the Baker Institute campus of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. The researchers designed the study so that the dogs are thoroughly examined, observed, fed, socialized, exercised, vaccinated and anything else they may need. The dogs’ personalities and special needs are taken into consideration when cohabitating with other dogs, in their separate rooms and during playtime outside. They have in-house veterinarians and researchers to monitor their health. Importantly, the researchers are monitoring not only the dogs’ health but also parameters of their individual aging experience.

“Our goal is not just to assess the state of health of a given dog but rather to dissect the aging process into its two key components: (i) declining resilience and (ii) acquisition of aging-related diseases.”

In order to observe declining resilience and aging-related diseases, the dogs participate in regular physical fitness (treadmill and pull tests) and cognitive tests (handler questionnaires, β-amyloid plaques, brain atrophy, neuron loss, and etc.). Their performance and scores are measured and compared to their previous scores. The researchers also regularly collect blood samples to assess the dogs for somatic cell genome modifications (accumulation of DNA damage) and immune system status (immunosenescence).

“In general, the canine immune system undergoes similar age-related changes to that of humans [85]. However, since completed canine studies are generally less comprehensive and predominantly cross-sectional, the reliability and relative significance of various immune parameters in aging have yet to be characterized.”

CONCLUSION

This research is still ongoing, and the researchers believe the infrastructure they established in this sled dog study is an important advancement in aging research. In the future, this animal model may be used to test anti-aging therapies and translate into advancing human healthspan and lifespan.

“We expect that these analyses will allow us to (i) characterize the mechanism(s) and regulation of canine aging, (ii) identify parameters and biomarkers suitable for assessment of biological age, and (iii) define factors that may act as aging accelerators or decelerators.”

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

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Aging (Aging-US) is an open-access journal that publishes research papers twice a month—in all fields of aging research and other biomedical topics. 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.

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Aging Testimonial: Dr. Kara Fitzgerald

Below is a transcript of the testimonial by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, from the Institute for Functional Medicine in Federal Way, Washington, about her experience publishing the paper, “Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial,” with Aging.

Researchers explain their studies that were published in Aging
Researchers explain their studies that were published in Aging
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Dr. Kara Fitzgerald:

I am thrilled with our study being accepted into the journal Aging. I think it’s the perfect home for it.

The process of submitting and our peer review journey was actually, it was actually a lot of fun! I found our peer reviewers, they really move our study forward and help us to articulate our findings and inquisitive, appreciative of what we’ve done. And so that whole piece of it was good.

Dr. David Sinclair actually suggested that Aging would be the right home for us and I couldn’t agree more.

What else? It’s open access. I think open access is essential. Having our study behind a paywall and inaccessible to other scientists and just the community who might be interested in the longevity research that’s happening, particularly this, which is a diet and lifestyle program so, it’s something that people could actually do if they wanted to. We want that available. So I’m all for open access.

I enjoyed working with Aging. I thought that they were good across the board. And I just appreciate David’s recommendation that we go here.

Click here to read the full study published by Aging.

Click the links below for more information on corresponding author, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald:
Biological Aging Summary | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | General Site | Younger You Program

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Aging is an open-access journal that publishes research papers monthly in all fields of aging research and other topics. 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.

Trending With Impact: New Drug Combinations Inhibit Stress Proteins

Researchers tested antiviral, anticancer, and immunosuppressive drug combinations that may aid in treating neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Figure 5. Neratinib and AR12 combine to reduce the expression of HSP90, HSP70, GRP78 and HSP27 via autophagy.
Figure 5. Neratinib and AR12 combine to reduce the expression of HSP90, HSP70, GRP78 and HSP27 via autophagy.

The Trending with Impact series highlights Aging 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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Heat shock proteins (HSPs), also known today as stress proteins, were first observed in fruit flies in the 1960s. After Dr. Ferruccio Ritossa inadvertently subjected a preparation of fruit fly salivary glands to a non-lethal increase in temperature, he discovered a new pattern of chromosomal “puffing.” In 1974, researchers identified the proteins that were encoded by the “puffs” recorded by Dr. Ritossa, and named them heat shock proteins. 

These newfound proteins appeared to only become detectable when the cells were heated. Researchers later learned that HSPs can also be induced by oxidants, toxins, heavy metals, free radicals, viruses, and other stressors. Since its discovery, variations of this genetic system have been found in all bacteria, plants, and animals—including humans. HSPs have been well-studied since this revelation, and researchers now believe these molecular chaperones play important roles in protein refolding, aging-related diseases, and overall longevity. 

“Toxic misfolded proteins are key drivers of AD [Alzheimer’s disease], ALS [Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis], HC [Huntington’s Chorea] and other neurodegenerative diseases.”

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth UniversityTranslational Genomics Research Institute, and the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute took part in a research study experimenting with combinations of therapeutic agents that may improve neurodegenerative diseases. In 2021, their paper was published in Aging’s Volume 13, Issue 13, and entitled, “Inhibition of heat shock proteins increases autophagosome formation, and reduces the expression of APP, Tau, SOD1 G93A and TDP-43.”

“In this paper we examined using isogenic colon cancer cells [with] several existing drugs that function by increasing autophagy and degrading misfolded proteins.”

THE STUDY

“Aberrant expression of chaperone proteins is found in many human pathologies including cancer, in virology and in AD, ALS and HC.”

In this study, researchers tested drugs that have been used preclinically and clinically in several anticancer studies. The drugs used were: AR12, an antiviral chaperone ATPase inhibitor; Neratinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor; a combination of AR12 and Neratinib; Fingolimod, an immunosuppressive sphingosine l-phosphate receptor modulator; MMF, monomethyl fumarate; and a combination of Fingolimod and MMF.

The cells they tested these drug combinations on in vitro included Vero cells (African Green Monkey kidney cells), isogenic HCT116 colon cancer cells (genetically manipulated colon cancer cells), and GB6 cells (glioblastoma cancer stem cells). They also used plasmids, antibodies, and siRNAs. Researchers acknowledged that the use of non-neuronal cells may be a limitation of this study.

“Our present studies were performed in non-neuronal cells and as a caveat, it is possible that our data in HCT116 and Vero cells will not be reflective of the same processes in neuronal cells.”

Despite this caveat, results from their research were promising. Some combinations of these drugs were capable of knocking down many disease specific proteins that form toxic aggregates inside cells and in extracellular environments via autophagy. 

CONCLUSION

“As the mechanism of drug-action became clearer it was apparent that these agents should also be tested in neurodegenerative diseases. The entire neurodegenerative field needs rapid translational methods that target the underlying cause of disease, toxic misfolded protein. The findings from this work warrant further testing with a focus on clinical utility.”

Click here to read the full research paper, published by Aging.

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Aging is an open-access journal that publishes research papers monthly in all fields of aging research and other topics. 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.


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Behind the Study: Cdkn1a Transcript and Aging

Dr. Judith Campisi discusses her priority research paper published in 2021 by Aging, entitled, “Cdkn1a transcript variant 2 is a marker of aging and cellular senescence.”

Researchers explain their studies that were published in Aging

Behind the Study is a series of transcribed videos from researchers elaborating on their recent oncology-focused studies published by Aging. A new Behind the Study is released each Monday. Visit the Aging YouTube channel for more insights from outstanding authors.

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Hello, my name is Judy Campisi. I am a Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and also a Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. And my laboratory, which is a pretty international laboratory with people from Asia and Europe, published a paper in aging, “Cdkn1a transcript variant 2 is a marker of aging and cellular senescence.”

So why do we care about this?

Well, most of my lab works on a process called cellular senescence, which is a cellular response to stresses and damage, many of which increase with age. And it’s now clear from mouse models that if you eliminate senescent cells, which increase with age, you can increase the health span of a mouse – not necessarily the lifespan, but the health span. So it becomes kind of important to have ways of identifying senescent cells in detail, and we have not been able to do that so far with absolute certainty because there frankly are no senescent-specific markers. So there are markers that are commonly expressed by senescent cells, but none of them are absolutely specific.

Figure 1. The Cdkn1a variant 2 transcript is preferentially induced during aging.
Figure 1. The Cdkn1a variant 2 transcript is preferentially induced during aging.

And so what we have done is we have looked at one of those markers, which is a gene called Cdkn1a and it codes for approaching, called P21. So everyone knows that P21 is one of those common biomarkers of aging, but it also is not necessarily strictly limited to aging. And what we’ve found is that there are two mRNAs that are made from that gene, that had been known before. We looked at these two mRNAs separately and found that one of them, which is called the variant 2, is a better marker of senescence and aging than the other mRNA. And that gives us a little bit of a edge in trying to unambiguously identify senescent cells in vivo and even in culture.

So the importance of this work is that it helps refine our ways of identifying these cells. We now know that these cells are important in aging, certainly in mice, probably in humans as well. So with this group of mine, many of which come from Spain or France or Russia, many of them contributed to refining this marker and allowing us to be able to have a better way of having some confidence that a senescent cell is indeed senescence.

And I can stop here.

Click here to read the full study published by Aging.

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Aging is an open-access journal that publishes research papers monthly in all fields of aging research and other topics. 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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