Posted on 9 October 2020
Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Why is this research important: The ageing of the immune system not only makes the body less able to defend against pathogens, but also has detrimental effects on other organ systems. The decline of the immune system gives rise to increased background inflammation or ‘inflammageing’, which drives many age-related chronic diseases.
What did the researchers do: One of the hallmarks of ageing is the decline in function of the mitochondria – the ‘energy factories’ of the cell. In this study, researchers wanted to investigate whether dysfunctional mitochondria could contribute to immune system changes seen in ageing. To do this, they used gene editing to obtain mice that would produce T cells with mitochondrial dysfunction.
Key takeaway(s) from this research: The mice with dysfunctional T cell mitochondria showed characteristics resembling premature ageing: cognitive and physical decline, heart conditions, increased inflammation and increased mortality. This supports the theory that mitochondrial dysfunction in immune cells is a driver of ageing.