Scientists from the Department of Biochemistry of The University of Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine were originally investigating a severe early onset of premature aging disorder, and their findings have documented a greater understanding of the aging process.
Dr Zhou Zhongjun and his team identified Lamin A protein as an activator of the longevity gene SIRT1; an enzyme that deacetylates proteins that contribute to cellular regulation.
In the study, which has been carried out over six years, they found that resveratrol enhances the binding between Lamin A and SIRT1 to activate SIRT1.
Through targeting SIRT1, the team restored stem cells and thus delayed the onset of aging and extended the healthy lifespan in mouse models of Hutchingson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS); a premature aging disorder.
It is believed that these findings can be further developed into a novel therapeutic strategy in the management of premature aging and aging-associated situations.
In their study, HKU researchers investigated the defects in stem cells and the impact of the longevity gene, namely SIRT1, to HGPS.
Stem cell impact
Although many studies showed the reduction in stem cell during aging, it is not clear if the reduction both in number and functions of stem cells are the cause or consequence of aging.
Researchers from HKU found that stem cells decline rapidly in HGPS mouse model and the decline occurs before the appearance of aging.
While increasing SIRT1 activity could restore stem cells, the study for the first time revealed Lamin A as an endogenous SIRT1 activator and the binding of SIRT1 to Lamin A protein is required for its activity.
The team is now looking for new molecules mimicking Lamin A that can significantly enhance SIRT1 activity, aiming to develop new treatments targeting on stem cells to treat aging conditions.
The research findings were published in the latest issue of a leading scientific journal - Cell Metabolism.