Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cause of Ageing Remains Elusive


A report by Chinese researchers in the journal Nature a few months ago was a small sensation: they appeared to have found the cause for why organisms age. An international team of scientists, headed by the University of Bonn, has now refuted a basic assumption of the Nature article. The reasons for ageing thus remain elusive.

The Chinese article caused a stir amongst experts worldwide. Using a simple measurement in young nematode worms, the researchers reported they had been able to predict how long they would live .

The photo shows a nematode worm with its mitochondria fluorescing in yellow due to sensor staining; a structural model of the probe is shown in the foreground.

© Dr. Markus Schwarzländer, Uni Bonn

The researchers had introduced a fluorescent probe called cpYFP into the cellular power stations, the mitochondria, of the worms. Mitochondria are present in most living organisms. They provide the energy for all processes of life.

Many biologists consider the mitochondria an important biological clock that drives ageing. As an underlying cause they suspect that the highly reactive molecules, so called free radicals, released during energy conversion by the power stations can react with cellular molecules causing damage. As a result cellular performance decreases until the cell dies.

This theory is not new – it was first proposed nearly 40 years ago. However, until today it has not been possible to show a conclusive link between mitochondrial activity, the formation of free radicals and ageing. En-Zhi Shen and his colleagues appeared to have found a critical link. They used cpYFP as a free radical detector. And indeed: the more frequently the probe lit up in young worms - i.e. the more free radicals they appeared to produce -, the shorter the worms lived.

An international team of scientists has now refuted a basic assumption of this study. Their work shows that cpYFP is not able to measure free radicals in the first place. Instead the signals of the probe are the result of changes in pH (that is the acidity) inside the mitochondria.

"From the published worm data we cannot conclude that the degree of free radical release determines lifespan." says Dr. Markus Schwarzländer, research group leader at the University of Bonn and first author of the publication. "cpYFP is not suitable to address this question." He adds that the relationship between the occurance of the probe signals and lifespan of the worms was exciting nevertheless. “Now we can focus on trying to understand its actual significance.“
The new study is soon to appear, also in the journal Nature. 28 experts from 9 countries were involved in this work. It was led by scientists from the University of Bonn, from the German Cancer Research Center Heidelberg, as well as from the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, England.

Publication: Markus Schwarzländer et al.: The ‘mitoflash’ probe cpYFP does not respond to superoxide; Nature Volume 514 Edition 7523; doi: 10.1038/nature13858

Contact details:
Dr. Markus Schwarzländer
Head of the Emmy-Noether Research Group „Plant Energy Biology“
Institute of Crop Science and Ressource Conservation, University of Bonn
Phone: +40-(0)228-73-54266

Dr. Andreas Archut | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>