Scientists have connected the circulatory systems of old mice to young mice, and they discovered that anti-aging process in older animals and enhances their lifetime by up to 10%. This is a peek at what might appear in a future episode of Black Mirror.
Recent research has demonstrated that transfusing young mice’s blood into older mice has a variety of positive health effects, including better brain function, slowing the progression of disorders like Alzheimer’s, and lengthened lifetime. What might higher, longer-lasting quantities of young blood accomplish if that is all it takes occasionally?
Scientists surgically connected the circulatory systems
For the new study, led by Duke Health, scientists surgically connected the circulatory systems of old and young mice. The process is called heterochronic parabiosis, and it’s previously been used to study whether Alzheimer’s originates outside of the brain.
The researchers connected young mice of four months old, and older mice aged two years, then studied their health over 12 weeks – equivalent to about 10% of a mouse’s lifespan. In human terms, that would be like pairing a 50-year-old with an 18-year-old for around eight years, the team said. The mice were then separated and followed for a further two months to see how long the effects lasted.
And sure enough, the older mice lived longer than the control mice and seemed to be in better health, though the increase was only slight—just 6 to 9% on average. They had significantly younger blood and liver tissue in terms of epigenetic age, and their gene expression exhibited anti-aging traits akin to those observed during calorie restriction.
Advantages given to the elderly mice persisted
The researchers discovered that some of the advantages given to the elderly mice persisted throughout the trial throughout the two-month follow-up. The molecular damage that the younger mice had received from their elder companions was promptly repaired.
According to Vadim Gladyshev, co-lead author of the study, “When the mice develop a joint circulatory system, the damage from the old mice goes to the young mice and increases their biological age.” “However, this technique lessens the damage in the case of the old mouse. The harm caused by the elderly mice that were conveyed to the young mice can be eliminated over time after separation, however, in the old mice, this damage is permanently diminished.
The team notes that while it is impractical to link the circulatory systems of young and elderly humans (we hope), future research may be able to pinpoint the precise molecules that confer benefits in the hopes of isolating those to create fresh anti-aging treatments.