A paper published online in Nature says researches at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have discovered that stem cells in the brain’s hypothalamus control speed of aging in the body. They arrived at the conclusion by experimenting on mice. The finding could help in finding new processes to tackle age-related maladies, thereby aiding to improve lifespans.
The hypothalamus governs crucial processes such as growth, metabolism, and reproduction.
Injecting Hypothalamic Stem Cells Did the Trick
Earlier, in 2013 Nature paper, researchers for the first time announced that hypothalamus is also responsible for aging throughout the body. This time around, the scientists went a step ahead to uncover the cells in the hypothalamus that control aging: an extra small group of adult neural stem cells that are known to form new brain neurons.
As per the release, the declining number of hypothalamic neural stem cells over the life of the animal results in aging. But scientists say the process of aging can be reversed by reintroducing the stem cells or the molecules they generate.
They injected hypothalamic stem cells into the brains of middle-aged mice with damaged stem cells. They also injected it in the brains of normal old mice. It bore fruit in both sets of animals by slowing or reversing aging. They found that the hypothalamic stem cells release molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs) to thwart aging. They do not bring about protein synthesis but instead have important roles in governing gene expression.
The researchers are now attempting to find out the particular populations of microRNAs and other factors generated by these stem cells that are responsible for these anti-aging effects. This will go a long way in slamming the brakes in the aging process.