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Inflammation and frailty

Step towards treatments for frailty

Published on: 3 November 2015

Researchers have reduced inflammation in human cells, which is a major cause of frailty.

Chronic inflammation, closely associated with frailty and age-related diseases, is a hallmark of ageing.

Scientists at Newcastle University and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, America, have discovered that inhibiting key enzyme pathways reduces inflammation in human cells in culture dishes and decreases inflammation and frailty in aged mice.

The results of their research have been published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Old people walking

Improvement in physical function

While further studies are needed, researchers are hopeful that these findings will be a step towards treatments for frailty and other age-related chronic conditions.

The study found that Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, drugs that works to block the activity of JAK family of enzymes, used in culture dishes decreased the factors released by human cells that contribute to frailty and diseases associated with age.

Also, these same JAK inhibitors reduced frailty factors in mice. Researchers examined aged mice, equivalent to a 90-year-old person, before and after JAK inhibitors.

Over the course of two months, the researchers found significant improvement in the physical function of the aged mice, including grip strength, endurance and physical activity.

Enhancing health span

The research was led by Dr James Kirkland, director of the Mayo Clinic. Mikolaj Ogrodnik, from Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Health, was part of the expert team.

Dr Kirkland said: “One of the things we want to do is find some kind of treatment other than prescribing better wheelchairs or walkers, or other kinds of things that we are stuck with now that are band-aid solutions.

“Our goal is not necessarily to increase life span and certainly not life span at all costs. Our goal is to enhance health span, the period during life when people are independent.

“This drug approach and others we are developing look like they might hold some promise in reaching that goal.”


JAK inhibition alleviates the cellular senescene-associated secretory phenotype and frailty in old age

Ming Xu, Tamara Tchkonia, Husheng Ding, Mikolaj Ogrodnik, Ellen R. Lubbers, Tamar Pirtskhalava, Thomas A. White, Kurt O. Johnson, Michael B. Stout, Vojtech Mezera, Nino Giorgdaze, Michael D. Jensen, Nathan K. LeBrasseur, and James L. Kirkland.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515386112

Press release courtesy of the Mayo Clinic


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