Journal: Aging cell
It is widely accepted that aging is accompanied by remodelling of the immune system including thymic atrophy and increased frequency of senescent T cells, leading to immune compromise. However, physical activity, which influences immunity but declines dramatically with age, is not considered in this literature. We assessed immune profiles in 125 adults (55-79 years) who had maintained a high level of physical activity (cycling) for much of their adult lives, 75 age-matched older adults and 55 young adults not involved in regular exercise. The frequency of naïve T cells and recent thymic emigrants (RTE) were both higher in cyclists compared with inactive elders, and RTE frequency in cyclists was no different to young adults. Compared with their less active counterparts, the cyclists had significantly higher serum levels of the thymoprotective cytokine IL-7 and lower IL-6, which promotes thymic atrophy. Cyclists also showed additional evidence of reduced immunesenescence, namely lower Th17 polarization and higher B regulatory cell frequency than inactive elders. Physical activity did not protect against all aspects of immunesenescence: CD28-veCD57+vesenescent CD8 T-cell frequency did not differ between cyclists and inactive elders. We conclude that many features of immunesenescence may be driven by reduced physical activity with age.
Epigenetic “clocks” can now surpass chronological age in accuracy for estimating biological age. Here, we use four such age estimators to show that epigenetic aging can be reversed in humans. Using a protocol intended to regenerate the thymus, we observed protective immunological changes, improved risk indices for many age-related diseases, and a mean epigenetic age approximately 1.5 years less than baseline after 1 year of treatment (-2.5-year change compared to no treatment at the end of the study). The rate of epigenetic aging reversal relative to chronological age accelerated from -1.6 year/year from 0-9 month to -6.5 year/year from 9-12 month. The GrimAge predictor of human morbidity and mortality showed a 2-year decrease in epigenetic vs. chronological age that persisted six months after discontinuing treatment. This is to our knowledge the first report of an increase, based on an epigenetic age estimator, in predicted human lifespan by means of a currently accessible aging intervention.
In this study, results are reported from the analyses of vastus lateralis muscle biopsy samples obtained from a subset (n = 90) of 125 previously phenotyped, highly active male and female cyclists aged 55-79 years in regard to age. We then subsequently attempted to uncover associations between the findings in muscle and in vivo physiological functions. Muscle fibre type and composition (ATPase histochemistry), size (morphometry), capillary density (immunohistochemistry) and mitochondrial protein content (Western blot) in relation to age were determined in the biopsy specimens. Aside from an age-related change in capillary density in males (r = -.299; p = .02), no other parameter measured in the muscle samples showed an association with age. However, in males type I fibres and capillarity (p < .05) were significantly associated with training volume, maximal oxygen uptake, oxygen uptake kinetics and ventilatory threshold. In females, the only association observed was between capillarity and training volume (p < .05). In males, both type II fibre proportion and area (p < .05) were associated with peak power during sprint cycling and with maximal rate of torque development during a maximal voluntary isometric contraction. Mitochondrial protein content was not associated with any cardiorespiratory parameter in either males or females (p > .05). We conclude in this highly active cohort, selected to mitigate most of the effects of inactivity, that there is little evidence of age-related changes in the properties of VL muscle across the age range studied. By contrast, some of these muscle characteristics were correlated with in vivo physiological indices.
The healthspan of mice is enhanced by killing senescent cells using a transgenic suicide gene. Achieving the same using small molecules would have a tremendous impact on quality of life and burden of age-related chronic diseases. Here, we describe the rationale for identification and validation of a new class of drugs termed senolytics, which selectively kill senescent cells. By transcript analysis, we discovered increased expression of pro-survival networks in senescent cells, consistent with their established resistance to apoptosis. Using siRNA to silence expression of key nodes of this network, including ephrins (EFNB1 or 3), PI3Kδ, p21, BCL-xL, or plasminogen activated inhibitor-2, killed senescent cells, but not proliferating or quiescent, differentiated cells. Drugs targeting these factors selectively killed senescent cells. Dasatinib eliminated senescent human fat cell progenitors, while quercetin was more effective against senescent human endothelial cells and mouse BM-MSCs. The combination of dasatinib and quercetin was effective in eliminating senescent MEFs. In vivo, this combination reduced senescent cell burden in chronologically aged, radiation-exposed, and progeroid Ercc1(-/Δ) mice. In old mice, cardiac function and carotid vascular reactivity were improved 5 days after a single dose. Following irradiation of one limb in mice, a single dose led to improved exercise capacity for at least 7 months following drug treatment. Periodic drug administration extended healthspan in Ercc1(-/∆) mice, delaying age-related symptoms and pathology, osteoporosis and loss of intervertebral disc proteoglycans. These results demonstrate the feasibility of selectively ablating senescent cells and the efficacy of senolytics for alleviating symptoms of frailty and extending healthspan. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Because people age differently, age is not a sufficient marker of susceptibility to disabilities, morbidities, and mortality. We measured nineteen blood biomarkers that include constituents of standard hematological measures, lipid biomarkers, and markers of inflammation and frailty in 4704 participants of the Long Life Family Study (LLFS), age range 30-110 years, and used an agglomerative algorithm to group LLFS participants into clusters thus yielding 26 different biomarker signatures. To test whether these signatures were associated with differences in biological aging, we correlated them with longitudinal changes in physiological functions and incident risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and mortality using longitudinal data collected in the LLFS. Signature 2 was associated with significantly lower mortality, morbidity, and better physical function relative to the most common biomarker signature in LLFS, while nine other signatures were associated with less successful aging, characterized by higher risks for frailty, morbidity, and mortality. The predictive values of seven signatures were replicated in an independent data set from the Framingham Heart Study with comparable significant effects, and an additional three signatures showed consistent effects. This analysis shows that various biomarker signatures exist, and their significant associations with physical function, morbidity, and mortality suggest that these patterns represent differences in biological aging. The signatures show that dysregulation of a single biomarker can change with patterns of other biomarkers, and age-related changes of individual biomarkers alone do not necessarily indicate disease or functional decline.
Currently, there are no effective therapies to ameliorate the pathological progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Evidence suggests that environmental factors may contribute to AD. Notably, dietary nutrients are suggested to play a key role in mediating mechanisms associated with brain function. Choline is a B-like vitamin nutrient found in common foods that is important in various cell functions. It serves as a methyl donor and as a precursor for production of cell membranes. Choline is also the precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which activates the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAchR), and also acts as an agonist for the Sigma-1 R (σ1R). These receptors regulate CNS immune response, and their dysregulation contributes to AD pathogenesis. Here, we tested whether dietary choline supplementation throughout life reduces AD-like pathology and rescues memory deficits in the APP/PS1 mouse model of AD. We exposed female APP/PS1 and NonTg mice to either a control choline (1.1 g/kg choline chloride) or a choline-supplemented diet (5.0 g/kg choline chloride) from 2.5 to 10 months of age. Mice were tested in the Morris water maze to assess spatial memory followed by neuropathological evaluation. Lifelong choline supplementation significantly reduced amyloid-β plaque load and improved spatial memory in APP/PS1 mice. Mechanistically, these changes were linked to a decrease of the amyloidogenic processing of APP, reductions in disease-associated microglial activation, and a downregulation of the α7nAch and σ1 receptors. Our results demonstrate that lifelong choline supplementation produces profound benefits and suggest that simply modifying diet throughout life may reduce AD pathology.
The process of aging results in a host of changes at the cellular and molecular levels, which include senescence, telomere shortening, and changes in gene expression. Epigenetic patterns also change over the lifespan, suggesting that epigenetic changes may constitute an important component of the aging process. The epigenetic mark that has been most highly studied is DNA methylation, the presence of methyl groups at CpG dinucleotides. These dinucleotides are often located near gene promoters and associate with gene expression levels. Early studies indicated that global levels of DNA methylation increase over the first few years of life and then decrease beginning in late adulthood. Recently, with the advent of microarray and next-generation sequencing technologies, increases in variability of DNA methylation with age have been observed, and a number of site-specific patterns have been identified. It has also been shown that certain CpG sites are highly associated with age, to the extent that prediction models using a small number of these sites can accurately predict the chronological age of the donor. Together, these observations point to the existence of two phenomena that both contribute to age-related DNA methylation changes: epigenetic drift and the epigenetic clock. In this review, we focus on healthy human aging throughout the lifetime and discuss the dynamics of DNA methylation as well as how interactions between the genome, environment, and the epigenome influence aging rates. We also discuss the impact of determining ‘epigenetic age’ for human health and outline some important caveats to existing and future studies.
In the coming decades, a massive shift in the aging segment of the population will have major social and economic consequences around the world. One way to offset this increase is to expedite the development of geroprotectors, substances that slow aging, repair age-associated damage and extend healthy lifespan, or healthspan. While over 200 geroprotectors are now reported in model organisms and some are in human use for specific disease indications, the path toward determining whether they affect aging in humans remains obscure. Translation to the clinic is hampered by multiple issues including absence of a common set of criteria to define, select, and classify these substances, given the complexity of the aging process and their enormous diversity in mechanism of action. Translational research efforts would benefit from the formation of a scientific consensus on the following: the definition of ‘geroprotector’, the selection criteria for geroprotectors, a comprehensive classification system, and an analytical model. Here, we review current approaches to selection and put forth our own suggested selection criteria. Standardizing selection of geroprotectors will streamline discovery and analysis of new candidates, saving time and cost involved in translation to clinic.
Oxidative stress has long been associated with aging and has recently been linked to psychiatric disorders, including psychosis and depression. We identified multiple antipsychotics and antidepressants that extend Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan and protect the animal from oxidative stress. Here, we report that atypical antidepressants activate a neuronal mechanism that regulates the response to oxidative stress throughout the animal. While the activation of the oxidative stress response by atypical antidepressants depends on synaptic transmission, the activation by reactive oxygen species does not. Lifespan extension by atypical antidepressants depends on the neuronal oxidative stress response activation mechanism. Neuronal regulation of the oxidative stress response is likely to have evolved as a survival mechanism to protect the organism from oxidative stress, upon detection of adverse or dangerous conditions by the nervous system.
Calorie restriction (CR) remains the most robust intervention to extend lifespan and improve health span. Using a global mass spectrometry-based metabolomic approach, we identified 193 metabolites that were significantly differentially expressed (SDE) in the livers of C57BL/6 mice, fed graded levels of CR (10, 20, 30 and 40% CR) compared to mice fed ad libitum for 12 h a day. The differential expression of metabolites also varied with the different feeding groups. Pathway analysis revealed that graded CR had an impact on carnitine synthesis and the carnitine shuttle pathway, sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) signalling and methionine metabolism. S1P, sphingomyelin and L-carnitine were negatively correlated with body mass, leptin, insulin-like growth factor- 1 (IGF-1) and major urinary proteins (MUPs). In addition, metabolites which showed a graded effect, such as ceramide, S1P, taurocholic acid and L-carnitine, responded in the opposite direction to previously observed age-related changes. We suggest that the modulation of this set of metabolites may improve liver processes involved in energy release from fatty acids. S1P also negatively correlated with catalase activity and body temperature, and positively correlated with food anticipatory activity. Injecting mice with S1P or an S1P receptor 1 agonist did not precipitate changes in body temperature, physical activity or food intake suggesting that these correlations were not causal relationships.