Now, a molecular map that documents aging in mice

November 29th, 2007 - 12:33 pm ICT by admin  

Washington , Nov 29 (ANI): A study has devised a new way to document the process of aging in mice at the molecular level by using a novel database called Agemap.

It gives details of how different tissues in mice are affected by aging and ultimately it will be possible to explain the short lifespan of just two years in mice.

The researchers at the National Institute of Aging and Stanford University have used gene arrays to identify genes whose activity changes with age in 16 different mouse tissues.

With aging, most tissues in organisms change their structure (for example, muscle tissues become weaker and have slow twitch rather than fast twitch fibers), and all tissues are prone to cellular damage that accumulates with age.

Such changes in tissues and cellular damage lead to changes in gene expression. Hence examining the genes which change expression in old age can lead to insights about the process of aging itself.

In previous studies, gene expression changes during aging in just one tissue were studied.

The new work stands out because it is much larger and more complete, including aging data for 16 different tissues and containing over 5.5 million expression measurements.

One remarkable result that came out was that some tissues (such as the thymus, eyes and lung) show large changes in which genes are active in old age whereas other tissues (such as liver and cerebrum) show little or none.

This indicated that different tissues may degenerate to different degrees in old mice.

Another insight is that there are three distinct patterns of aging, and that tissues can be grouped according to which aging pathway they take.

This suggests that there are three different clocks for aging that may or may not change synchronously, and that an old animal may be a mixture of tissues affected by each of the different aging clocks.

Ultimately, the report compares aging in mice to aging in humans.

Several aging pathways were found to be the same, and these could be interesting because they are relevant to human aging and can also be scientifically studied in mice.

The study will be published in PLoS Genetics. (ANI)

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