Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Reducing p38MAPK levels delays aging of multiple tissues in lab mice

Singapore and NC researchers report findings in Developmental Cell

In the new issue of the Developmental Cell journal, a team of scientists at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, report research findings about the molecular mechanisms behind the aging process, which has up till now been poorly understood, that offer the possibility that a novel, pharmacological approach could be developed to combat age-related disorders.

In their research with lab rodents, the scientists found that the p38MAPK protein, already known for its role in inflammation, also promotes aging when it activates another protein p16, which has long been linked to aging.

In addition, they found that reducing the levels of p38MAPK delayed the aging of multiple tissues.

Through their experiments, the scientists found that partial inactivation of p38MAPK was sufficient to prevent age-induced cellular changes in multiple tissues, as well as improve the proliferation and regeneration of islet cells, without affecting the tumour suppressor function of p16 in mice.

Dmitry Bulavin, M.D., Ph.D., research team leader and principal investigator in A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), said, "We are excited by this new found role for p38MAPK in aging. Due to the previously established involvement of p38MAPK in inflammatory diseases, small molecule inhibitors of p38MAPK signalling have already entered clinical trials for the treatment of other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Our latest discovery offers the possibility that a novel, pharmacological approach could be developed to combat age-related disorders."

In the paper, the scientists described how they studied the role of p38MAPK in aging by using genetically modified mice. They found that several organs, including the pancreas, in the mice that had a reduced amount of p38MAPK protein exhibited a delayed degeneration as the mice grew older.

These mice also displayed an improved growth and regeneration of pancreatic islet beta cells compared to the control group of mice with normal levels of p38MAPK. Beta cells make and release insulin.

In Type 2 diabetes, these cells are unable to produce enough insulin to meet the body's demand, partly due to a decrease in beta cell mass.

In addition, the scientists also found that the forced activation of p38MAPK stunted the growth of insulin-producing islet beta cells and caused insulin resistance in mice, which is the basis of Type 2 diabetes.

These results suggest that by controlling p38MAPK levels, scientists could potentially treat age-related degenerative conditions dependent on the p38MAPK signalling pathways.

Such findings may prove important to the development of novel treatment approaches for Type 2 diabetes in the elderly.

While investigating the effects of lowering p38MAPK levels to achieve a significant delay in aging in mice, the scientists had another consideration: insuring that the level of p16, a tumour suppressor, did not fall below the threshold that was required to protect the animals from developing tumours.

Through their experiments, the scientists found that partial inactivation of p38MAPK was sufficient to prevent age-induced cellular changes in multiple tissues, as well as improve the proliferation and regeneration of islet cells, without affecting the tumour suppressor function of p16 in mice.

The scientists went on to investigate the upstream mechanisms that regulated p38MAPK in old mice and that have not been widely studied to date.

They found that high levels of the protein Wip1, a protein that has been known to be implicated in cancer, suppressed the activity of p38MAPK, and this led to islet proliferation, which in turn improved the pancreatic function in aging mice.

Their results, therefore, identified Wip1 as an additional target to which anti-aging therapies could be directed.

Neal Copeland, Ph.D., Executive Director of IMCB, said, "Dr. Bulavin's team has achieved an important breakthrough in the study of ageing. These significant findings, together with other recent discoveries made by IMCB's scientists, illustrate how IMCB has worked with its international collaborators to fully harness the knowledge and tools of modern medical science, to increase understanding of the causes behind common human diseases. The resulting knowledge will hopefully contribute to the development of effective treatment for clinical conditions."

The research findings are described in the following article, "p38MAPK controls expression of multiple cell cycle inhibitors and islet proliferation with advancing age," published in the 21 July 2009 print issue of Developmental Cell.

Authors: Esther Sook Miin Wong1,4, Xavier Le Guezennec1,4, Oleg N. Demidov1, Nicolette Theresa Marshall1, Siew Tein Wang2, Janakiraman Krishnamurthy3, Norman E. Sharpless3, N. Ray Dunn2 and Dmitry V. Bulavin1,*

1 Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore
2 Institute of Medical Biology, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore
3 Departments of Medicine and Genetics, The Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

4 These authors contributed equally to this work.

* Corresponding author: Dr Dmitry Bulavin,

Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB):

The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) is a member of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and is funded through A*STAR's Biomedical Research Council (BMRC). It is a world-class research institute that focuses its activities on six major fields: Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Structural Biology, Infectious Diseases, Cancer Biology and Translational Research, with core strengths in cell cycling, cell signalling, cell death, cell motility and protein trafficking. Its recent achievements include leading an international consortium that successfully sequenced the entire pufferfish (Fugu) genome. The IMCB was awarded the Nikkei Prize 2000 for Technological Innovation in recognition of its growth into a leading international research centre and its collaboration with industry and research institutes worldwide. Established in 1987, the Institute currently has 35 independent research groups with more than 400 staff members.

For more information about IMCB, please visit

Institute of Medical Biology (IMB):

The Institute of Medical Biology is a member of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). With its roots in the Centre for Molecular Medicine since 2004, it became the Institute of Medical Biology in 2007, with a mission to study mechanisms of human disease in order to discover new and effective therapeutic strategies for improved quality of life. IMB is developing internationally excellent research programmes working closely with clinical collaborators, targeting the challenging interface between basic science and clinical medicine, and aiming to promote increased and effective throughput of research from bench to bedside. Its growing portfolio of strategic research topics aims to promote translational research on the mechanisms of human diseases with a cell to tissue emphasis that can help identify new therapeutic strategies for disease amelioration, cure and eradication.

For more information about IMB, please visit

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR):

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. A*STAR actively nurtures public sector research and development in Biomedical Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Engineering, and supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to our partners in industry and the healthcare sector. It oversees 23 research institutes, consortia and centres located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, and the area in their vicinity, and supports extramural research with the universities, hospital research centres, and other local and international partners.

Wang Yunshi | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

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...

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

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>