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Aging is the progressive accumulation of damage that occurs to an organism over time, eventually leading to disease and death. Findings from a new study suggest that diluting the blood of old mice can reverse some of the deleterious effects of aging.
Previous studies have shown that therapeutic plasma exchange via heterochronic parabiosis, a procedure in which two organisms of different ages are joined so that they share a common blood supply, elicits improvements in the older organism and declines in the younger, suggesting that young blood rejuvenates whereas old blood deteriorates. Similar effects have been observed in studies in which blood between old and young organisms was transfused, without the need for joining the two.
The authors of the new study capitalized on these findings. Over a period of 30 minutes, they gradually replaced half of the platelet-rich plasma in old and young mice with a saline and albumin solution, effectively diluting the plasma and compensating for any albumin losses. Six days later, they assessed the effects of the dilution on aspects of muscle, brain, and liver health.
Diluting the blood of old mice enhanced muscle repair, increased neurogenesis in the hippocampus, and decreased fat stores and fibrosis in the liver – recapitulating the effects of heterochronic blood exchange. The overall composition of the blood proteins shifted toward a more favorable one that coordinated tissue maintenance and improved immune responses. The procedure had no effects on the young mice.
The authors of the study suggested that there are proteins in old blood that are responsible for accelerating aging. Diluting plasma altered cell signaling pathways, subsequently influencing the expression of genes involved in aspects of physiological functioning. They further suggested that this type of procedure could be used to promote health and longevity in humans.
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