The workshop entitled ‘Interventions to Slow Aging in Humans: Are We Ready?’ was held in Erice, Italy, on October 8–13, 2013, to bring together leading experts in the biology and genetics of aging and obtain a consensus related to the discovery and development of safe interventions to slow aging and increase healthy lifespan in humans. There was consensus that there is sufficient evidence that aging interventions will delay and prevent disease onset for many chronic conditions of adult and old age. Essential pathways have been identified, and behavioral, dietary, and pharmacologic approaches have emerged. Although many gene targets and drugs were discussed and there was not complete consensus about all interventions, the participants selected a subset of the most promising strategies that could be tested in humans for their effects on healthspan. These were: (i) dietary interventions mimicking chronic dietary restriction (periodic fasting mimicking diets, protein restriction, etc.); (ii) drugs that inhibit the growth hormone/IGF-I axis; (iii) drugs that inhibit the mTOR–S6K pathway; or (iv) drugs that activate AMPK or specific sirtuins. These choices were based in part on consistent evidence for the pro-longevity effects and ability of these interventions to prevent or delay multiple age-related diseases and improve healthspan in simple model organisms and rodents and their potential to be safe and effective in extending human healthspan. The authors of this manuscript were speakers and discussants invited to the workshop. The following summary highlights the major points addressed and the conclusions of the meeting.
BackgroundGlobal but predictable changes impact the DNA methylome as we age, acting as a type of molecular clock. This clock can be hastened by conditions that decrease lifespan, raising the question of whether it can also be slowed, for example, by conditions that increase lifespan. Mice are particularly appealing organisms for studies of mammalian aging; however, epigenetic clocks have thus far been formulated only in humans.ResultsWe first examined whether mice and humans experience similar patterns of change in the methylome with age. We found moderate conservation of CpG sites for which methylation is altered with age, with both species showing an increase in methylome disorder during aging. Based on this analysis, we formulated an epigenetic-aging model in mice using the liver methylomes of 107 mice from 0.2 to 26.0 months old. To examine whether epigenetic aging signatures are slowed by longevity-promoting interventions, we analyzed 28 additional methylomes from mice subjected to lifespan-extending conditions, including Prop1df/df dwarfism, calorie restriction or dietary rapamycin. We found that mice treated with these lifespan-extending interventions were significantly younger in epigenetic age than their untreated, wild-type age-matched controls.ConclusionsThis study shows that lifespan-extending conditions can slow molecular changes associated with an epigenetic clock in mice livers.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-017-1186-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Improvements in health care have greatly increased life span in the United States. The focus is now shifting from physical well-being to improvement in mental well-being or maintenance of cognitive function in old age. It is known that elderly people suffer from cognitive impairment, even without neurodegeneration, as a part of 'normal aging'. This 'age-associated memory impairment' (AAMI), can have a devastating impact on the social and economic life of an individual as well as the society. Scientists have been experimenting to find methods to prevent the memory loss associated with aging. The major factor involved in these experiments is the use of animal models to assess hippocampal-based spatial memory. This review describes the different types of memory including hippocampal-based memory that is vulnerable to aging. A detailed overview of various behavioral paradigms used to assess spatial memory including the T-maze, radial maze, Morris water maze, Barnes maze and others is presented. The review also describes the molecular basis of memory in hippocampus called as 'long-term potentiation'. The advantages and limitations of the behavioral models in assessing memory and the link to the long-term potentiation are discussed. This review should assist investigators in choosing suitable methods to assess spatial memory in mice.
BackgroundAge-associated epigenetic changes are implicated in aging. Notably, age-associated DNA methylation changes comprise a so-called aging “clock”, a robust biomarker of aging. However, while genetic, dietary and drug interventions can extend lifespan, their impact on the epigenome is uncharacterised. To fill this knowledge gap, we defined age-associated DNA methylation changes at the whole-genome, single-nucleotide level in mouse liver and tested the impact of longevity-promoting interventions, specifically the Ames dwarf Prop1 df/df mutation, calorie restriction and rapamycin.ResultsIn wild-type mice fed an unsupplemented ad libitum diet, age-associated hypomethylation was enriched at super-enhancers in highly expressed genes critical for liver function. Genes harbouring hypomethylated enhancers were enriched for genes that change expression with age. Hypermethylation was enriched at CpG islands marked with bivalent activating and repressing histone modifications and resembled hypermethylation in liver cancer. Age-associated methylation changes are suppressed in Ames dwarf and calorie restricted mice and more selectively and less specifically in rapamycin treated mice.ConclusionsAge-associated hypo- and hypermethylation events occur at distinct regulatory features of the genome. Distinct longevity-promoting interventions, specifically genetic, dietary and drug interventions, suppress some age-associated methylation changes, consistent with the idea that these interventions exert their beneficial effects, in part, by modulation of the epigenome. This study is a foundation to understand the epigenetic contribution to healthy aging and longevity and the molecular basis of the DNA methylation clock.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-017-1185-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) is implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Mutations in alpha-syn gene or alpha-syn locus (SNCA) triplication are associated with mitochondrial abnormalities and early onset of familial PD. The goals of the present study were to examine whether alpha-syn is localized in the mitochondria of alpha-syn overexpressing cells (HEK-syn cells); and whether alpha-syn overexpression causes cells to be more vulnerable to mitochondrial toxin, rotenone. Western blotting and confocal microscopy techniques were employed to assess localization of alpha-syn in the mitochondria of HEK-293 cells that were stably transfected with human wild-type alpha-syn. The results demonstrated that the mitochondrial fractions that were isolated from HEK-syn cells showed the presence of alpha-syn, whereas, no alpha-syn was detected in the mitochondrial fractions of control HEK cells. The mitochondria of HEK-syn cells were found to be more susceptible to rotenone-induced toxicity when compared to control HEK cells. The intracellular ATP levels were significantly decreased in HEK-syn cells in response to sub toxic concentrations of rotenone. These results suggest that under overexpression conditions, alpha-syn may translocate to mitochondria and cause enhanced toxicity in response to sub toxic concentrations of mitochondrial toxins. This study has implications to the pathogenesis of familial PD where alpha-syn overexpression is mainly involved.
The infusion of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) potentially improves clinical symptoms, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We conducted a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled (29 patients/group) phase II clinical trial to validate previous findings and explore the potential mechanisms. Patients treated with umbilical cord-derived MSCs exhibited a shorter hospital stay (P = 0.0198) and less time required for symptoms remission (P = 0.0194) than those who received placebo. Based on chest images, both severe and critical patients treated with MSCs showed improvement by day 7 (P = 0.0099) and day 21 (P = 0.0084). MSC-treated patients had fewer adverse events. MSC infusion reduced the levels of C-reactive protein, proinflammatory cytokines, and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and promoted the maintenance of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies. To explore how MSCs modulate the immune system, we employed single-cell RNA sequencing analysis on peripheral blood. Our analysis identified a novel subpopulation of VNN2+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor-like (HSPC-like) cells expressing CSF3R and PTPRE that were mobilized following MSC infusion. Genes encoding chemotaxis factors — CX3CR1 and L-selectin — were upregulated in various immune cells. MSC treatment also regulated B cell subsets and increased the expression of costimulatory CD28 in T cells in vivo and in vitro. In addition, an in vivo mouse study confirmed that MSCs suppressed NET release and reduced venous thrombosis by upregulating kindlin-3 signaling. Together, our results underscore the role of MSCs in improving COVID-19 patient outcomes via maintenance of immune homeostasis.
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