Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research links telomere length to emphysema risk

15.07.2011
Telomeres, the body's own cellular clocks, may be a crucial factor underlying the development of emphysema, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

"We found that in mice that have short telomeres, there was a significant increased risk of developing emphysema after exposure to cigarette smoke," said Mary Armanios, MD, assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The study appears online ahead of the print edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Telomeres are DNA protein structures that protect chromosome ends from degradation. Their length is genetically determined, but they also shorten progressively with cell division. Short telomeres are considered one marker of ageing in cells.

"With age, short telomeres accumulate and cause cells to stop dividing. Telomeres can be thought of as 'biological clocks,'" Dr. Armanios explained. "We wanted to determine whether telomere length itself was why susceptibility to emphysema increases with age."

Dr. Armanios and her colleagues examined the role of telomeres in lung disease by studying mice that have shortened telomeres. The mice were exposed to cigarette smoke for six hours a day, five days a week for six months.

The researchers then analyzed the lung tissue and pulmonary function of the mice. "Although the mice had no lung disease at baseline, after exposure to cigarette smoke, they surprisingly developed emphysema. In contrast, mice with long telomeres did not develop lung disease during our experiments," said Dr. Armanios.

In emphysema, alveoli, the small air sacs where oxygen exchange occurs, are permanently lost. Emphysema changes are normally found in older individuals, and occasionally even in those who have never smoked. But they are most commonly found in smokers.

Emphysema is a common cause of disability, and among the top 10 causes of mortality in the United States, it remains on the increase. While smoking cigarettes is the most common risk factor, it is not known why some people are more prone to developing emphysema than others. There are currently no available medical treatments, and affected individuals often require lung transplantation.

"We found that cells with damaged DNA stopped dividing, and lung cells with too much damage could no longer be repaired, thus contributing to the emphysema," she continued. "These results are one of the clearest examples of telomere length, which is an inherited factor, interacting with an environmental insult to cause disease. In fact, our results in mice suggest that short telomeres might contribute to how cigarette smoke accelerates aging in the lung in some individuals."

Dr. Armanios hopes that this new research will lead into new insights into identifying new ways to preserve lung function with age.

"It's important to remember that there is no good reason to smoke and the best way to prevent emphysema is to stop smoking," she said.

Previously, Dr. Armanios and her group had shown that shortened telomeres cause a disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a disorder of unrelenting scarring in the lung. IPF occurs with emphysema in some individuals, and the incidence of both disorders increases with age and with smoking. "By linking telomere length to both disorders, there is now clear suggestion that they may share a common mechanism that can be traced to telomeres."

Further research must be done to confirm that the observed findings are applicable to humans, and, if so, what mechanisms might underlie them. "Now that we have examined the question of susceptibility in a rigorous genetic model, we can begin to study how telomere length affects emphysema risk in susceptible populations."

Keely Savoie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.thoracic.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>