Hypothalamus holds the key to reverse ageing and Longer Lifespans. Scientists have identified a pea sized part of the brain they say may hold the key to extending human lifespans.
Researchers found it was “possible to slow and even reverse to slow and even reverse various aspects of ageing throughout the body“ by replenishing adult stem cells that control how quickly the body grows old. The small bundle of neurons that appears to keep a tight rein on ageing is called the hypothalamus and is located at the base of the brain. Dongsheng Cai, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, US, led the new study in which tests were carried out on lab mice to pinpoint this area.
The research, published in the journal `Nature’, showed that as the number of stem cells in the hypothalamus declines over time, or if their function is disrupted, the body’s organs and metabolic processes age faster and death occurs earlier. “Our research shows that the number of hypothalamic neural stem cells naturally declines over the life of the animal, and this decline accelerates aging,“ said Cai, “But we also found that the effects…. are not irreversible.“
Ageing could be held back by replenishing these stem cells “or the molecules they produce“, he added. The team believes humans are likely to respond to the influence of hypothalamus stem cells in just the same way as the mice.
The hypothalamus acts like a computer’s CPU, regulating a wide range of biological functions and linking nerves and hormones. One of its most important jobs is to maintain homeostasis -keeping different parts of the body working in a stable, balanced way.
It operates via a complex array of hormones. The crucial hypothalamus stem cells are “mother cells“ that mature to produce new neurons.
Cai’s team looked at what happened to the cells as healthy mice got older. They found that the number of hypothalamus stem cells began to diminish when the animals reached about 10 months, several months before the usual signs of aging normally start to appear. Mice in captivity live a maximum of about three years.
“By old age, most of those cells were gone,“ said Cai. When the stem cells in middle-aged mice were selectively disrupted artifi cially, it led to “greatly accelerated aging“, he said. Cai added: “Those mice with disrupted stem cells died earlier than normal.“
The next step was to inject hypothalamus stem cells into the brains of mice whose own supply of the cells had been destroyed, as well as “normal“ old mice.
In both groups, various measurements including tissue analysis and assessments of muscle endurance, coordination, and mental ability showed that aging was either slowed or reversed.The anti-aging effects were traced to molecules called micro RNAs (miRNAs) released by the stem cells. These small snippets of genetic material play a key role in regulating gene activity.
When miRNA was taken from hypothalamus stem cells and injected into the cerebrospinal fluid of mice, aging was again significantly slowed.