From Young Blood May Hold Key to Reversing Aging (original article here)

Human blood cells

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons,

The original article cites the bold claim from two labs that blood from young mice can rejuvenate the bodies of older mice. Is this really groundbreaking science? Not really – in fact, several groups have previously demonstrated that circulating factors found in young mouse blood are capable of rejuvenating various organs in aged mice. Last year a research group led by Amy Wagers at Harvard found that one circulating protein, GDF-11 is present at very high levels in young mice, but much lower in old mice. Restoring young levels of this protein in old mice decreased age related heart defects in the older mice. Now, two labs have shown a similar rejuvenating effect of GDF-11 in both skeletal muscle and the brain. These results are exciting in that GDF-11 may have a broad anti-aging effect in the body.

However, it is always difficult to correlate results in mouse models with humans. In this case, GDF-11 is also found in humans, but not at such high levels as in mice, suggesting it may not be as important for people. We also do not yet know whether GDF-11 decreases with age in humans. Additionally, a mouse is considered “aging” at about 22 months old. The aging processes in humans, which take place over decades, rather than months, may be very different than that in mice.

Edited by SITN Waves Editor Adam Brown. Special thanks to Jamie Lahvic from the Harvard Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program for her detailed critique.

For more about aging and regenerative medicine check out these recent SITN articles:
1. Stem Cells, the Key to Longevity

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