With the growth of age, some people do not old first, some people are old and strong. Compared with the mere longevity, more people want to be more long-term health, flexible mind, strong body, to achieve the “old and unfailing” state. A new study published online today in the leading academic journal Nature offers us the possibility of a “healthy aging”.
The team of The Researchers of Cai Shiqing, Institute of Neuroscience of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Jiang Lubin of the Pasteur Institute in Shanghai, identified two gene regulatory factors that regulate the rate of aging. Removing these regulatory factors from the body can help “older” mice prevent cognitive decline and become younger.
How did this discovery come about? Academic Latitude in today’s article with you to see. First, the Chua Shiqing Research Group chose nematodes as the object of studying aging. The small worm, which is only about 1 mm in length, has a short life cycle of about 3 weeks and is not complex in its behavior, but the same obvious aging manifestations, coupled with a clear genetic background, are a common animal model used by biologists to study aging.
In research over the past few years, the team has found that increasing neurotransmitters can improve the mobility of older nematodes, and that differences in aging rates between individuals are associated with changes in neurotransmitter levels.
So, using changes in neurotransmitter function as an indicator, scientists screen edited all of the worm’s genes online to find out which genes to reduce their expression, which can regulate the aging of nematodes. As a result, the researchers screened more than 16,000 genes to identify 59 candidate genes. Instead, they noticed two genes at key nodes in the network.
The genes that affect nematode aging through genome-wide RNA interference screening (Photo: Resources)
These two genes, baz-2 and set-6, are expressed as nematodes grow older. Reducing their expression, nematodes become healthy and long-lived, and the decline in the ability to eat and other behaviors slows down significantly, and to a certain extent extends life expectancy. Therefore, these two genes of nematodes may be potential targets for anti-aging.
Although the discovery comes from simple nematodes, we also have the homologous genes BAZ2B and EHMT1 in the human genome. And in terms of known data, similar to those found in in-line insects, these two genes are expressed in the nervous system and increase with age, and are associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Does that, in turn, reduce the expression of these two genes, and slow down the brain? This possibility has been demonstrated in mice. In mice that knocked out the Baz2b gene, older mice showed advantages in learning and memory over normal mice. Interestingly, the tendency of old age to gain weight has also been curbed, cognitive, metabolic and other aspects are showing “young state”.
Lower Baz2b, improved weight gain and learning memory performance in older mice (Photo: Supplied)
The next question is, why do baz-2/BAZ2B and SET-6/EHMT1 genes regulate aging? Scientists continue to explore the mechanism. Jiang Lubin’s team specialized in epigenetics research, and by working together, the research team demonstrated that the two genes they found related to the regulation of aging belong to epigenetic regulatory factors, whose function is to regulate the expression of other genes without affecting dna sequence.
Further digging, they found that the genes regulated by this epigenetic regulatory factor were associated with mitochondria. As an “energy factory” within cells, the decline of mitochondrial function is an important factor in the degradation of tissue function. Over the past decade or so, studies have shown that mitochondria are associated with longevity, and that a dysfunction of the mitochondria can lead to a range of aging-related phenomena, such as AD.
Epigenetic regulatory factors regulate the aging of the nervous system by regulating mitochondrial function (Photo: Resources 1)
So combined with these results, the researchers found a group of genes most likely to regulate the aging of the nervous system by regulating the function of mitochondria. Perhaps this new anti-aging target will provide us with a way to live a long, healthy and long life.