Posted on Nov 28, 2019, 1 p.m.
Genetic discoveries suggest that components of the extracellular matrix may represent a link between our immune defenses and longevity.
Links between immunity and longevity do exists but they are believed to be an indirect association; people that are capable of fighting diseases more efficiently also live longer. But it remains unclear whether there are common mechanisms regulating immune defence and longevity.
A study published in Science advances conducted by Washington State University researchers involving C. elegans indicates that their nervous system controls its exterior skin like barrier which changes structure in response to bacterial infections. Findings serve to change traditional views of a worm’s cuticle as a physical barrier that is part of the body’s innate defence against infections, but is not able to respond to pathogens, according to corresponding author Assistant Professor Jingru Sun.
Additionally cutting edge technology was used to disrupt expression of neuronal G-protein coupled receptor NPR-8 that regulates collagen; when disrupted nematodes survived longer when exposed to different pathogens, and they maintained a smooth cuticle which didn’t wrinkle. Results suggests the nervous system can detect infections and responds by remodelling or strengthening the cuticle which is the first line of defense and protection.
Findings indicate that neural regulation of collagen has implications for anti-aging, longevity, and immune defense. However, humans are more complex organisms, so the findings may not translate the same to humans. The cuticle is the only extracellular matrix found in nematodes, but humans have an extracellular matrix on every organ, changes in collagen levels and the stiffness of this matrix can have more complex implications than just the extent of wrinkling.
Another study published in The Journals of Gerontology used available genomics data to investigate links between genes and aging in humans, however, no strong links were found which highlighted the necessity of integrating genetic association study results with functional genomic and pharmacologic studies.
Around the globe scientists and researchers are working to identify and develop approaches to promote healthy aging and longevity with some yielding very promising results. With all of the advances and breakthroughs this is an exciting time for the fields of longevity, anti-aging, and regenerative medicine and their continued efforts.
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