A quick look down any skin care aisle will show our culture’s current obsession with preventing and slowing the aging process. However, it is hard to prevent a process that isn’t completely understood to begin with. Several teams are investigating blood itself and its effects on physiological functions.

A team from UC Berkeley compared the effects of transfusing blood from young mice to old mice and vice versa (with two control sets of young-to-young and old-to-old) on 3 systems: muscle regeneration, liver function, and hippocampal neurogenesis. They found that giving a single injection of young blood to old mice resulted in increased muscle regeneration and a slight increase in liver function. Interestingly, giving a single injection of old blood to young mice resulted in decreased physical performance, decreased brain cell development, and decreased liver function. Thus, young blood has a moderate effect on these systems, but there’s something in old blood that contributes significantly to our health. While the paper posits several different mechanisms, the exact causes for these results are still unknown.

It should be noted that the sample sizes for this experiment were relatively small: only 4 pairs (donor & recipient) were used in each set. Despite this, the study does show definitive results. The study also sets the stage for future studies. Researchers can now compare multiple and long-term transfusions to the single transfusion’s effects and investigate the effects of different components of blood. Just as discovering anti-oxidants revolutionized the health industry, perhaps we are approaching another era in the fight against aging.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Mitch McVey for his commentary on this article. Mitch is an Associate Professor at Tufts University.

Managing Correspondent: Zane Wolf

Original Article: A single heterochronic blood exchange reveals rapid inhibition of multiple tissues by old blood – Nature Communications

Media Coverage: Young Blood Transfusions Don’t Cure Aging – Time, Old Blood Carries Risks for Brains – Science News

Related SITN Articles: Young Blood Rejuventation — Groundbreaking Science or Old News, Stem Cells: The Key to Longevity? 

Image Credit: isak55/Shutterstock.com

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