Researchers Use Brain Cells to Control Aging in Mice
It is a question people have been asking for—well-- ages. Is there a way to turn back the aging process?
For centuries, people have been looking for a "fountain of youth." The idea is that if you find a magical fountain, and drink from its waters, you will not age.
Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León searched for waters with magical powers in the early 1500s. But what he found instead is the American state of Florida.
Researchers in New York did not find an actual fountain of youth, but they may have found a way to turn back the aging process. It appears the answer may be hidden right between your eyes, in an area called the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus is part of your brain. It controls important activities within the body. They include growth, reproduction and the way we process food.
Researchers at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that hypothalamus neural stem cells also influence how fast aging takes place in the body.
What are stem cells? They are simple cells that can develop into specialized cells, like blood or skin cells. Stem cells can also repair damaged tissues and organs.
Dongsheng Cai is a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was the lead researcher in a study on aging in mice. He and his team reported their findings in the journal Nature.
Cai explains what they found.
"Aging speed is controlled, can be controlled by a particular place in the body, which is the hypothalamus. And it can be controlled by a particular type of cells, which are hypothalamus stem cells. I think these findings are quite interesting, potentially even remarkable."
He adds that when the hypothalamus starts aging, so does the body.
"So when hypothalamus function is in decline, particularly the loss of hypothalamus stem cells, and this protection against the aging development is lost, it eventually leads to aging."
Using this information, the researchers began trying to activate, or energize, the hypothalamus in laboratory mice. They did this by injecting the animals with stem cells.
Later, the researchers examined tissues and tested for changes in behavior. They looked for changes in the strength and coordination of the animals' muscles. They also studied the social behavior and cognitive ability of the mice.
The researchers say the results show that the treatment slowed aging in the animals.
Cai says injecting middle-aged mice with stem cells from younger mice helped the older animals live longer.
"When we injected the hypothalamus stem cells, which were derived from young mice, we injected them to the middle-aged mice and that was, in fact, to slow down aging. So the mouse aged slowly and they also have increased their lifespan, which is longevity."
But these results were just from studying mice in a laboratory. If the mice can live longer, does that mean people could have longer lives? The next step is to see if the anti-aging effects also work in human beings.
"If we can translate what we have seen in animals to humans, I think humans, they can function better during later ages, later stage of aging."
Cai and his team say their studies may have other benefits. They say the findings could lead to new ways to help doctors identify and treat any number of age-related health issues.
I'm Anne Ball.
1.social behavior 社会行为
The researchers say the study suggests that voting is a social behavior.
2.lead to 导致
A lack of prudence may lead to financial problems.
3.human beings 人类
All human beings are much more intelligent than animals.
4.stem cell 好像
The scientists said they developed stem cell lines from two of these cells.
1.Is there a way to turn back the aging process?
turn back 阻挡
His group was forced to turn back and take an alternate route.
Finding the road impassable, we had to turn back.
2.Researchers at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that hypothalamus neural stem cells also influence how fast aging takes place in the body.
takes place 发生
The action takes place on a steeply raked stage.
The meeting takes place against a background of continuing political violence.
几个世纪以来，人们一直在寻找“不老泉 。”这是指如果你找到一汪神奇的泉水，喝下这里的泉水可以长生不老 。
西班牙探险家胡安·庞塞·德莱昂（Juan Ponce de León）在16世纪初寻找具有神力的水源 。但是他却发现了美国佛罗里达州 。
虽然纽约的研究人员没有找到不老泉，但是他们可能发现了一种方法来扭转衰老过程 。而答案可能就藏双眼间的一处名为下丘脑的区域 。
下丘脑是人类大脑的一部分 。它控制着人体的部分重要活动，如生长、繁衍以及如何消化食物 。
干细胞是什么？干细胞是一种简单细胞，可发育成血液和皮肤细胞等特殊细胞 。干细胞还能修复受损的人体组织和器官 。
蔡东升是爱因斯坦医学院的教授 。他是老鼠衰老这项研究的首席研究员 。他和团队在《自然》杂志上报道了他们的发现 。
他说：“衰老速度是可控的，受人体某个特定位置（下丘脑）的控制 。衰老速度可通过一种特定细胞控制，也就是下丘脑干细胞 。我认为这些发现十分有趣，甚至具有重大意义 。”
利用这些信息，研究人员开始试着刺激实验室小白鼠的下丘脑区域 。他们给小白鼠注射干细胞 。
随后，研究人员检查了小白鼠的组织，并测试了它的行为变化 。他们研究了小白鼠肌肉的力量与协调性变化，还对它的社会行为和认知能力进行剖析 。
“我们给中年小白鼠注射年轻小白鼠的下丘脑干细胞，其实就是延缓了它的衰老速度 。因此这只小白鼠的衰老速度逐渐放缓，其寿命得以延长，这就是长寿 。”
但是研究结果仅限于实验室内的小白鼠 。如果小白鼠可以延长寿命是否意味着人类也能做到呢？接下来就是检验这种抗衰老作用是否也适用于人类 。
蔡教授及其团队表示，他们的研究可能还有其它益处 。他们表示，该研究结果有助于医生诊断和治疗与年龄相关的疾病 。