University of Tartu Research Challenges Assumptions About Organ Aging
The University of Tartu Biomedical School
( Photo: Postimees/Scanpix )
A University of Tartu study has found that the biological age of arterial wall lesions in cardiovascular patients was much lower than expected, suggesting that organs may age more slowly than the rest of the body.
The study, led by newly-appointed Professor Johan Björkegren, was published in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE on April 8.
It found that the patients' arterial wall lesions, a potential cause of strokes, were only three to five years old, whereas the patients themselves were over 60.
“We presumed that the lesions would be substantially younger than the patients, who on average were 68 years old at the time of surgery. Yet we were surprised when we found that the average age of the lesions was even less than 10 years,” Björkegren said in a university press release.
“The whole idea is that lesion age can now be used to better understand the molecular underpinnings of these lesions. Biological age adds a new dimension to molecular biology that has gone unaddressed assuming that organs, healthy or diseased, have the same ages as their carrier, now we know that this is not true, at least not for vascular lesions,” he explained.
The study also found that the variation in age of the lesions was low, suggesting that they begin to form relatively quickly, and late in a patient's life. If proved true, the discovery means it may be possible to slow the growth of the lesions and prevent strokes even in older patients.