Worms reveal secrets of aging: Researchers discover a conserved pathway that controls aging

Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Health System have identified a new molecular pathway that controls lifespan and healthspan in worms and mammals. In a Nature Communications study published today, researchers showed that worms with excess levels of certain proteins lived longer and healthier than normal worms. In addition, mice with excess levels of these proteins demonstrated a delay in blood vessel dysfunction associated with aging. The study has major implications for our understanding of aging and age-associated disorders.


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“Biological Insights Into Muscular Strength: Genetic Findings in the UK Biobank”, Tikkanen et al 2017

Background: Hand grip strength, a simple indicator of muscular strength, has been associated with a range of health conditions, including fractures, disability, cardiovascular disease and premature death risk. Twin studies have suggested a high (50-60%) heritability, but genetic determinants are largely unknown. Aims: In this study, our aim was to study genetic variation associated with muscular strength in a large sample of 334,925 individuals of European descent from the UK Biobank, and to evaluate shared genetic aetiology with and causal effects of grip strength on physical and cognitive health. Methods and Results: In our discovery analysis of 223,315 individuals, we identified 101 loci associated with grip strength at genome-wide significance (P<5e-8). Of these, 64 were associated (P<0.01 and consistent direction) also in the replication dataset (N=111,610). Many of the lead SNPs were located in or near genes known to have a function in developmental disorders (FTO, SLC39A8, TFAP2B, TGFA, CELF1, TCF4, BDNF, FOXP1, KIF1B, ANTXR2), and one of the most significant genes based on a gene-based analysis (ATP2A1) encodes SERCA1, the critical enzyme in calcium uptake to the sarcoplasmic reticulum, which plays a major role in muscle contraction and relaxation. Further, we demonstrated a significant enrichment of gene expression in brain-related transcripts among grip strength associations. Finally, we observed inverse genetic correlations of grip strength with cardiometabolic traits, and positive correlation with parents' age of death and education; and showed that grip strength was causally related to fitness, physical activity and other indicators of frailty, including cognitive performance scores. Conclusions: In our study of over 330,000 individuals from the general population, the genetic findings for hand grip strength suggest an important role of the central nervous system in strength performance. Further, our results indicate that maintaining good muscular strength is important for physical and cognitive performance and healthy aging.


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Immune Cell Telomeres and Senescence in the Context of Viral Infection and Aging

It is considered that a sizable component of the disarray of the aged immune system is caused by cytomegalovirus infection, and here I thought I'd note a couple of recent papers that touch on the intersection between this topic and the measurement of telomere length. The herpesvirus cytomegalovirus cannot be cleared from the body by...


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‘Ridiculously healthy’ elderly have the same gut microbiome as healthy 30 year-olds

In one of the largest microbiota studies conducted in humans, researchers at Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute and Tianyi Health Science Institute in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China have shown a potential link between healthy aging and a healthy gut.


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There Will be Many More Approaches to the Destruction of Senescent Cells

Targeted removal of senescent cells is a narrow form of rejuvenation, reversing one of the causes of degenerative aging. A variety of different approaches are in clinical development: targeting standard cell destruction techniques based on gene expression inside cells, as illustrated by the Oisin Biotechnologies method; various antibodies that bind to surface characteristics of senescent...


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