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

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs