A new mechanism for controlling aging of white blood cells has been discovered
British researchers have discovered a new mechanism for controlling aging of white blood cells that could reverse the decline of the immune system and boost immunity in older people. The study is in the journal of immunology.
As people get older, their immune systems become less efficient, leaving them vulnerable to severe infections. This poses a threat to their health and quality of life.
The team, led by professor arne akbar from university college London, found that the human immune system gradually weakens because a certain percentage of white blood cells are inactivated after each infection. Although this mechanism evolved to prevent some cancers, as the proportion of inactivated white blood cells increased, the body's defenses get weakened.
Studies have shown that white blood cell inactivation is caused by an unknown aging mechanism of the immune system. Previously, scientists believed that aging of immune cells is related to the length of telomeres. As the white blood cells proliferate, the telomeres shorten until they become permanently inactivated. This means that immune cells have a built-in longevity mechanism. As people live longer, immune cells will fail to provide effective protection.
In the blood samples taken, professor akbar's team found that some of the inactivated white blood cells had longer telomeres, suggesting other mechanisms. Even more exciting, these white blood cells with longer telomeres are not permanently inactivated.
When researchers blocked a pathway for newly identified white blood cells in the lab, they found that the cells could be reactivated, and medicine that block that pathway had already been developed to treat other diseases. So the next step for the researchers will be to study the benefits of reactivating white blood cells in the elderly.
The researchers say that although this approach may not keep people young forever, it could boost immunity in older people and help them fight off infectious diseases. In addition, this study also deepens the understanding of cell biology, and opens up a new and unforeseeable future for the control of human immune system, which is of great value for improving the quality of human life.
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