Important molecular pathway for control of aging discovered

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One of the ways cells in different kinds of tissue communicate is by exchanging RNA molecules. In experiments with roundworms of the species Caenorhabditis elegans, researchers at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil found that when this communication pathway is dysregulated, the organism’s lifespan is shortened.

“Previous research showed that some types of RNA can be transferred from one cell to another, mediating intertissue communication, of the kind that occurs with proteins and metabolites, for example. This is considered a mechanism for signaling between organs or neighboring cells. It’s part [of the physiopathology] of several diseases and of the organism’s normal functioning,” said Marcelo Mori, corresponding author of the article and a professor at the Institute of Biology (IB-UNICAMP).

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“What wasn’t clear, and we’ve now succeeded in proving, is that changes in the pattern of this ‘conversation’ between RNA molecules can affect aging.”

“This communication mechanism has to be well adjusted to give the organism an adequate lifespan. In the study, we found that if any tissue happens to increase its capacity to absorb some types of RNA from the extracellular medium, this ends up having an impact on the organism’s lifespan,” Mori said.

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