January 12, 2015
1 min read

Production of collagen, ECM components may be integral to anti-aging drugs

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Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have identified a path that could lead to new research into longevity and potential anti-aging drugs.

In a study, the Joslin researchers separated two molecular pathways in the microscopic worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, that involve insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) — a hormone with a molecular structure similar to insulin. The first pathway allows the worm to undergo a form of hibernation in order to endure certain stresses like lack of food and extreme temperatures before resuming life at a better time, according to a Joslin press release. The second pathway, which was the main focus of the study, closely parallels human mechanisms and requires the activation of a gene known as SKN-1 — a gene regulator that controls many defenses against stress, similar to the human gene regulators known as Nrf1/2/3.

Using treatments known to boost longevity, the researchers examined how these treatments affected the expression of genes within C. elegans that produce collagen and other proteins that comprise the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), the framework supporting tissues, organs and bones, according to the press release.

“Any longevity intervention that we looked at, whether genetic or nutritional or drugs, increased expression of collagen and other ECM genes and enhanced ECM remodeling,” T. Keith Blackwell, MD, PhD, senior and co-corresponding author on the paper, said in the release. “If you interfere with this expression, you interfere with the lifespan extension. And if you over-express some of these genes, the worm actually lives a little bit longer.”

This discovery could open up research into longevity and may lead to improved anti-aging drugs that can hinder development or progression of chronic diseases like diabetes, according to the press release.

Reference: www.joslin.org.