Although again is not something we can simply wish is not happening, the fact may be that the brain is somehow responsible for making us older. This was the conclusion of a study which seems to generate strong evidence that the stem cells play a critical role in the aging of the entire body – however, only through the ability to generate new neurons. These results were collected by researchers at the Bronx’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
However, the big question seems to be what exactly controls the timing of the process of aging. One of the possibilities which seem to be the most plausible is that neural stem cells continue to divide and produce new neurons even after the development of the brain but their production slows down over time which allows aging to kick into full speed.
Several different labs have identified neural stem cells in the Hypothalamus and the scientists decided to experiment on mice to possibly find a correlation. As the mice were old, the stem cells seem to have been almost gone. This, however, does not answer the question of whether the aging caused the stem cells to deteriorate or the stem cells caused the aging.
In order to find out, the scientists decided to infect the stem cells of mice with a virus that is non-toxic to other cells but just to the targeted stem cells. During the process, around 70% of the stem cells have been killed with this technique. Once they were gone, the aging in mice seemed to have been progressing faster – 10% faster. This does not sound like much and it is not responsible for the entire aging process but the result is still very significant.
What this research suggests is that the stem cells in the Hypothalamus play a crucial role in the aging process, but this is not the only thing that affects aging. We need to be aware that this process in multi layered and that everything from diet to hormones going to affect our rate of aging. This means that once we do figure out what stem cells do in the body exactly when it comes to aging, we still won’t be getting a magic potion to stop the aging but just a piece of a very complex puzzle.