Scientists Reverse Aging-Associated Skin Wrinkles And Hair Loss in a Mouse Model

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Summary: Wrinkled skin and hair loss are hallmarks of aging. What if they could be reversed? Researchers have reversed the skin wrinkles and hair loss in a mouse model.

In humans, a decline in mitochondrial function is seen during aging, and mitochondrial dysfunction can drive age-related diseases. A depletion of the DNA in mitochondria is also implicated in human mitochondrial diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, age-associated neurological disorders and cancer. When a mutation leading to mitochondrial dysfunction is induced, the mouse develops wrinkled skin and extensive, visible hair loss in a matter of weeks. When the mitochondrial function is restored by turning off the gene responsible for mitochondrial dysfunction, the mouse returns to smooth skin and thick fur, indistinguishable from a healthy mouse of the same age. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have reversed the skin wrinkles and hair loss in a mouse model. The study findings were published in the journal Cell Death & Disease.

Reverse of aging

These photos show the hair loss and wrinkled skin after two months of doxycycline induction, and the same mouse a month later after doxycycline was stopped, allowing restoration of the depleted mitochondrial DNA. Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham

The mutation in the mouse model is induced when the antibiotic doxycycline is added to the food or drinking water. This causes depletion of mitochondrial DNA because the enzyme to replicate the DNA becomes inactive. In four weeks, the mice showed gray hair, reduced hair density, hair loss, slowed movements and lethargy, changes that are reminiscent of natural aging. The wrinkled skin was seen four to eight weeks after induction of the mutation, and females had more severe skin wrinkles than males. Dramatically, this hair loss and wrinkled skin could be reversed by turning off the mutation. The wrinkled skin showed changes similar to those seen in both intrinsic and extrinsic aging, intrinsic aging is the natural process of aging, and extrinsic aging is the effect of external factors that influence aging, such as skin wrinkles that develop from the excess sun or long-term smoking.

Prof. Kehsav Singh said, “Further experiments are required to determine whether phenotypic changes in other organs can also be reversed to wildtype level by restoration of mitrochondrial DNA.”

More Information: Bhupendra Singh et al, “Reversing wrinkled skin and hair loss in mice by restoring mitochondrial function”, Cell Death & Disease (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41419-018-0765-9 

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