News / Health

Blood of Young Mice Reverses Signs of Aging in Older Ones

A protein found in young mice, which is also found in humans, resulted in the formation of new blood vessels and improved blood flow in older mice.
A protein found in young mice, which is also found in humans, resulted in the formation of new blood vessels and improved blood flow in older mice.
Jessica Berman
Two new studies show that young blood reverses signs of aging in old mice, but that doesn't mean scientists have finally found the elusive fountain of youth.

However, the discovery could one day help people lead healthier lives.

In two papers published in Science, Harvard University researchers in Boston describe how the protein GDF11, found in higher levels in the blood of young mice, improved the brain and muscle function of older mice.

GDF11 appears to work by stimulating the development of new blood vessels. The protein is also present in humans.

In one experiment, researchers increased the levels of GDF11 in aging mice by surgically connecting the circulatory systems of young mice to the old rodents.  

Blood containing higher levels of GDF11 flowed through the veins of both animals. In another experiment, they injected the protein into elderly mice. Scientists saw the greatest improvement in function in mice that shared the same blood supply.

Investigators saw the formation of new blood vessels and improved blood flow in older mice, which they say reversed signs of aging in every tissue they looked at.

Researcher Lee Rubin, professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard's Stem Cell Institute, and his team investigated the effect of GDF11 on brain tissue.  

"So, this simple surgery, infusing an old mouse with young blood, actually produced some structural changes in the old brain, making the old brain, in essence, more like [a] young brain," he said. "And some people have used the phrase 'rejuvenating the old brain.'  And similar things were observed in other tissues."

Rubin colleague Amy Wagers observed that GDF11 repaired DNA damage associated with aging.  In prior experiments with the protein, Wagers and colleagues noted the enlarged, weakened hearts of older mice returned to a more youthful size and beat more efficiently.  So-called diastolic heart failure, a fatal condition, is common in aging humans and this research raises hopes the disease may be reversible.

Similarly, Rubin says GDF11 possibly could improve memories for Alzheimer's disease patients or movement for Parkinson's victims. But he says the protein is not a "fountain of youth," and the aim of research is not increasing, but improving life span.

"In other words, even if you did not live more years, at least you could remain healthier for the number of years you do live," he said. "And I think again, what we've shown is functional improvement in ... various different tissues in mice."

In an article in Nature, published simultaneously, researchers at Stanford University in California report blood from young mice improved neural circuits, enhancing learning and memory in older rodents.

Researchers in Massachusetts and California have teamed with biotechnology firms to see whether the findings can be translated to humans. Harvard University's Lee Rubin predicts clinical trials could begin in three to five years.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sharon from: Georgia
May 30, 2014 4:05 PM
OMG find me 1000 young mice.


by: David from: Kent
May 09, 2014 10:31 PM
O god, this sounds like the premise for a sci-fi horror story.


by: Gregg Williamson from: Oregon USA
May 05, 2014 3:19 PM
Ok, so sharing the blood helped the older mice, but what did
it do to the younger mice?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid