Hello and welcome to Transfusion News. Today we will be discussing three concurrent reports published in the journals Science and Nature Medicine that examine how blood from younger mice may play a role in reversing age-related decline in cognitive function, muscle atrophy, and the sense of smell.
Dr. Paul Ness at Johns Hopkins Hospital comments on these papers:
“While the transfusion community is currently awaiting prospective clinical trial data to determine if fresher blood is better for transfusions, the entire medical community is joining the discussion to determine if blood from younger individuals can reverse aging.”
Researchers from Stanford and Harvard Universities surgically joined the circulatory systems of mice pairs. They paired two older mice as controls and also paired younger and older mice in order to study the rejuvenating effects of younger blood in older mice. In addition, they injected older mice with either plasma from younger mice or a circulating growth factor called GDF11.
The researchers found that older mice surgically joined to younger mice had enhanced synaptic plasticity and greater stem cell proliferation in the part of the brain associated with memory, and improvements in their sense of smell. Genome-wide microarray analysis of these pairs identified distinct gene expression patterns including genes involved in synaptic plasticity such as creb which has a well-documented role in memory formation.
When older mice were intravenously injected with younger plasma, they showed enhanced learning and memory for hidden platforms in mazes. Furthermore, when older mice were injected with GDF11, which is known to be involved in blood vessel maintenance and neurogenesis, blood vessel volume increased by 50% and neurogenesis increased by almost 30% in the brains.
Although these preliminary data in mice point to enhanced memory and cognitive function, strengthen muscles, and increased sense of smell, Dr. Ness cautions:
“While these data are very compelling and many want to live longer, we must be cautious because unwanted stem cell proliferation can lead to cancer or other unanticipated health consequences. Furthermore, we have no idea how long these rejuvenating effects of young blood last nor how often plasma transfusions would be necessary. However, for aged people with chronic diseases such as dementia this type of treatment could hold promise.”
We’ll be back with another edition of Transfusion News on June 15th. Thanks for joining us.