Scientists have conducted an experiment in hopes of finding a definitive answer to the question of whether the whole organism ages at the same rate.
The international team, involving the Doñana Biological Station (EBD) of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in Spain, has found that the process by which the telomeres (markers of aging that tend to change with age and to shorten stress) runs unevenly in different parts of the body. The results indicate that not all organisms age at the same rate.
To arrive at this discovery, the researchers conducted a seven-month experiment in individuals of a species of frog (Xenopus laevis) undergoing metamorphosis, measuring length in five different tissues (tail muscle, heart, liver, gut and leg muscle). their larval phase, metamorphosis and after metamorphosis until reaching the adult phase.
“This finding is extremely relevant as it suggests that the changes that tissues undergo throughout life imply different aging dynamics. In the gut, for example, we observe longer telomeres after metamorphosis than before metamorphosis. In the species studied, the gut undergoes incredible transformations during metamorphosis (from vegetarian to carnivore), and the observed changes in telomere length appear to be mediated by the existence of large numbers of stem cells in the gut after metamorphosis,” he says. Pablo Burraco, researcher at EBD and co-author of the study.
“Other tissues, like the heart, undergo few changes once formed in early stages, which could explain the lack of changes in the length of their telomeres throughout life, in addition to possible mechanisms protecting their aging,” adds the scientist.
The new study suggests that not all organisms age at the same rate. (Illustration: Amazings/NCYT)
The aging of organisms is due to the loss of function of some organs of the body. This process includes everything from cardiovascular disease to nutritional imbalances to the development of cancer. Therefore, the researcher emphasizes: “Understanding the dynamics of markers related to aging is valuable information for future studies in this direction.”
Regarding the future in this research area, Burraco anticipates that the next steps will involve manipulating telomere length in the different tissues and examining whether this implies changes in the function of the different parts of the body. Likewise, the mechanisms that explain the observed changes in telomere length need to be investigated, with particular interest in the possible role of stem cells.
The University of Glasgow in the UK participated in the research.
The study is titled “Aging across the great divide: Tissue transformation, organism growth, and temperature shape telomere dynamics through the metamorphic transition.” And it was published in the scholarly journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (Source: CSIC)