Scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Ulm in Germany reported the discovery of a chemical method to turn off blood stem cell aging in the Oct. 20, 2013, issue of the journal Nature.
Blood stem cells and the process that creates them deteriorate with age.
The researchers discovered how to stop blood cell aging in mice.
As blood stem cells age, the cells cause an increased production of a protein called Wnt5a. Increasing the levels of Wnt5a in mice accelerated the aging of blood stem cells.
The increase in Wnt5a in aged blood stem cells produced an increase in another protein called Cdc42 (cell division control protein 42) that has previously been shown to be critical to blood stem cell aging. Eliminating Cdc42 in mice reduced the rate of aging.
The researchers bred mice without the Wnt5a protein. This blocked the production of the Cdc42 protein and reversed the aging process and rejuvenated blood stem cells and blood stem cell production.
The researchers are investigating the potential for the use of this discovery in humans to help the elderly boost their immune systems, fight illnesses, and enhance overall vitality.