Old hearts may find new life, according to a new study, which shows that stem cells taken from younger hearts can be used to reverse the aging process. This could potentially cause older hearts to act and perform like younger ones.
The study, conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and published by the European Heart Journal, set out to observe the effects of cardiac stem cells on various aspects of the heart, including its function and structure. Prior applications of Cardiosphere-derived cells (CDC) resulted in positive effects, but this was the first time its effects in the aging process were tested. This is different from the tests performed last month at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where the hypothalamus region of the brain was discovered to be a key part of aging in mice.
Cedars-Sinai researchers instead took CDC cells from newborn mice and injected it into the hearts of older mice, while another group of older mice were injected with saline. Blood, echocardiographic, haemodynamic and treadmill stress tests were performed on all mice after injections, with the older groups tested 1 month later.
The mice given the Cardiosphere-derived cells saw a number of benefits compared to their saline counterparts. They had improved heart functionality, were able to exercise 20 percent longer, regrew hair at a faster rate, and had longer heart cell telomeres. This is important because telomeres are compounds found at the ends of chromosomes whose shortening is directly correlated to the aging process.
“The way the cells work to reverse aging is fascinating,” said Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute Director and Lead Researcher Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD. “They secrete tiny vesicles that are chock-full of signaling molecules such as RNA and proteins. The vesicles from young cells appear to contain all the needed instructions to turn back the clock.”