Scientists at the Salk Institute Came Across a Possible Way to Slow Down Aging – Gilmore Health News

By daniellenierenberg

Arteries and veins are the blood vessels that help transport blood and nutrients in the body. Each type of blood vessel has its own specific structure and set of features that enable the functioning of blood vessels at an optimal level.

For example, arteries, which are the vessels responsible for carrying oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body are generally thick and more elastic than their counterpart, veins. Veins carry the deoxygenated blood from the body back to the heart and are generally thinner than arteries.

It is important to note that the thickness or thinness of the blood vessel refers to the wall size and the diameter of the vessel.

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The blood vessels over time become less elastic and can be calcified over time. This is referred to as an age-related change, something everyone goes through. The entire body undergoes these types of changes as one ages. Most of the changes are associated with the general weakness of body physiology. Over time, these changes, after being affected by comorbidities can be severely detrimental to an individuals health.

As people age, the blood vessels in the body become weak and less elastic. This weakness presents in the form of leakiness. Furthermore, the loss of elasticity results in rigid and hardened vessels. All of this can result in serious consequences to ones health.

Hence, making blood vessels an important topic of research, However, this research topic comes riddled with limitations as the study of blood vessels requires a sample which can only be obtained in an invasive manner. This is not a suitable method for long term research and study of blood vessels and the effect of age on them has been performed using pluripotent stem cells.

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The use of stem cells by researchers leads to the second limitation in this field of research. Stem cells are the undifferentiated cells in the embryonic stage that can differentiate into any other type of cells. These are the cells that all humans start off as. However, differentiating them into cells of the blood vessels to study them further doesnt provide the results scientists hoped for.

Martin Hetzer, Salks vice president and chief science officer is the head of the new research in which he and his team claim to have found a solution to this problem. However, in 2015, Hetzer was in the team that initially used stem cells to form cells of the blood vessels. The limitation of this study was that the blood vessel formed had no age-markers and was brand new and couldnt be studied for the effects of aging on blood vessels.

A recent study published in the eLife Journal in September 2020, performed by a team of scientists from Salk headed by Hetzer found that using fibroblasts may be more useful than pluripotent stem cells. Fibroblasts, a type of cells in the connective tissue, were derived from skin cells and used in this study to form induced vascular endothelial cells (iVECs) and induced smooth muscle cells (iSMCs)

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For this study, researchers used skin cells from three groups of subjects; young subjects between the ages of 19 and 30 years, older subjects between the ages of 62 and 87 years, and patients suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), an accelerated aging disorder.

Three samples from young subjects, three from older subjects, and 8 from patients affected by Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome were taken and stimulated to develop into iVECs and iSMCs.

Hetzer and his team found that these iVECs and iSMCs had all the age-markers and showed different genetic expression dependant on age. This helped the researchers find genes and proteins associated with aging and age-related effects on blood vessels.

One such protein, namely BMP4, was found in higher amounts in the samples from older individuals and the iSMCs from the HGPS patients. Researchers assumed that this protein might be the reason for the accelerated aging seen in HGPS.

Read Also: HGH and Anti Diabetic drugs, an Anti-Aging Cocktail According to Study

To test their hypothesis, they used antibodies against BMP4 in volunteers with vascular disease. Hetzer and the team found that blocking BMP4 in these volunteers resulted in lesser vascular leaking, a feature of vascular disease. This finding is being recommended by the researchers as the new target for the treatment of HGPS or progeria.

Hetzer and his team aim to continue working on this to isolate the genes associated with aging and the exact mechanism of them, especially at the molecular level.

Direct reprogramming of human smooth muscle and vascular endothelial cells reveals defects associated with aging and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome

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Scientists at the Salk Institute Came Across a Possible Way to Slow Down Aging - Gilmore Health News

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