To delay or perhaps, reverse aging is a topic that occupies the mind of many researchers. Stem cells are tools that help study aging because : they divide and renewing themselves for long periods,they differentiate into different cell types as they are initially unspecialized. These cells are immortal, they do however decrease in functioning as years go by and we age.
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Two vivid examples of this are: melonocyte stem cells which give rise to he pigment of our hair, but become less effective as we age so we get grey hair, as well as the epidermal cells that produce collagen which produce less of it as we age and therefore we get wrinkles. Ann Brunett, studies nenural stem cells to understand what happens as we age, or what mechanisms responsible for this aging process.
Thus far, the studies reveal two mechanisms of ageing in stem cells which are epigenetics and metabolism. Brunett in her studies aimed to identify the role of genes discovered associated with longevity of stem cells in the brain. She came across the FOXO3 transcription factors, selfrenewing proteins that help make new neurons and presevre diasbility. It is thought that, ageing can be reversed by mutations in specific genes, or changes in environmental factors. Aside from genes, diet and excercise plays a significant role. As an example, Plant products: (metmorphin, redrozphil from grape). Diet restrictions and excercise do not directly effect genes. They act on chromatins, which modulate whether or not genes are accessable and make longterm changes in the organism and the next generation descendents.
The modifications of DNA such as acetylation and methylation change with age; and deletion or overexpression of the enzyme responsible for DNA modifications can change the organisims’ longevity. Studying these changes, suggests introduction of pharmacological agents that may target the rerarangements in the metabolism of aged stem cells to improve their regenration potential. The article I read on PUBMED suggest, regulation of oxidative metabolism is linked to stem cell aging through studies of the sirtuin family of NAD-dependent protein deacetylases, which are important regulators of oxidative stress, aging and stem cell function.Overall, there is not one known answer to why stem cells age, and the research is ongoing.
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