Sirtuin1 (SIRT1) protein could be the key to maintain the health of ageing blood stem cells as loss of this protein affects their ability to regenerate blood normally, a study indicates.

"Our data shows that SIRT1 is a protein that is required to maintain the health of blood stem cells and supports the possibility that reduced function of this protein with age may compromise healthy ageing," explained Saghi Ghaffari, an associate professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Humans store stem cell pools in key tissues, including blood. These stem cells can become replacement cells for those lost to wear and tear. But as the blood stem cells age, their ability to regenerate blood declines, potentially contributing to anaemia and the risk of cancers like acute myeloid leukemia and immune deficiency.

The new study showed that young blood stem cells that lack SIRT1 behave like old ones. With use of advanced mouse models, the researchers found that blood stem cells without adequate SIRT1 resembled aged and defective stem cells, which are thought to be linked to development of malignancies.

"The notion that SIRT1 is a powerful regulator of ageing has been highly debated, but its connection to the health of blood stem cells is now clear," Ghaffari added.

"Identifying regulators of stem cell ageing is of major significance for public health because of their potential power to promote healthy ageing and provide targets to combat diseases of ageing," she noted.

The findings appeared in the journal Stem Cell Reports.


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