In a study from the University of Bristol and elsewhere, scientists found an anti-aging gene in a population of centenarians can rewind the heart’s biological age by 10 years.
The breakthrough offers a potential target for patients with heart failure.
Associated with exceptional longevity, carriers of healthy mutant genes, like those living in blue zones of the planet, often live to 100 years or more and remain in good health.
These individuals are also less prone to cardiovascular complications. Scientists believe the gene helps to keep their hearts young by protecting them against diseases linked to aging, such as heart failure.
In this study, researchers showed that one of these healthy mutant genes can protect cells collected from patients with heart failure requiring cardiac transplantation.
The team found that a single administration of the mutant anti-aging gene halted the decay of heart function in middle-aged mice.
Even more remarkably, when given to elderly mice, whose hearts exhibit the same alterations observed in elderly patients, the gene rewound the heart’s biological clock age by the human equivalent of more than ten years.
The study was also performed in test tube human cardiac cells in Italy.
The team says the cells of the elderly patients, in particular those that support the construction of new blood vessels, called ‘pericytes,’ were found to be less performing and more aged.
By adding the longevity gene/protein to the test tube, they observed a process of cardiac rejuvenation: the cardiac cells of elderly heart failure patients have resumed functioning properly, proving to be more efficient in building new blood vessels.
Centenarians pass their healthy genes to their offspring. The study showed for the first time that a healthy gene found in centenarians could be transferred to unrelated people to protect their hearts.
Other mutations might be found in the future with similar or even superior curative potential than the one investigated by this research.
The researchers believe this study may fuel a new wave of treatments inspired by the genetics of centenarians.
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The study was conducted by Professor Paolo Madeddu et al and published in Cardiovascular Research.
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