New cause of cellular aging discovered

Studies concerning cell aging and their lack of regeneration, especially in relation to human aging, are increasingly numerous. A new work, this time conducted by the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, has identified a new cause of cell aging.

The study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, focused on natural senescence, a phase of cellular life during which cells stop regenerating, essentially creating new cells. This is why we age with all the consequences that aging brings. A senescent cell stops dividing and enters an irreversible state that stops its cell cycle.

Researchers have discovered that senescent cells stop producing a particular class of chemicals called nucleotides. The latter are considered as the “building blocks” of DNA. Arriving at this stage, the senescent cells show two nuclei and fail to synthesize DNA. The confirmation came through an experimental approach: they forced young epithelial cells to stop producing nucleotides. The cells stopped reproducing and became essentially senescent.

This means that if a method is found to prevent cells from reaching a point where they stop synthesizing nucleotides, the same cellular aging, therefore human aging, could be at least slowed down, as reported by Alireza Delfarah, the lead author of the study.

The aim of the scientists is not, however, to prevent cell senescence altogether: this is a partly immune-protective process, which inter alia counteracts the spread of cancer cells, although it can favor the development of other diseases such as diabetes, cardiac dysfunction or atherosclerosis. The aim is more than anything else “to promote healthy aging and better function,” as Graham himself reports.