New insight into 'accelerated aging' disease

Sep 13, 2010

Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS or progeria) is a rare genetic disease that causes young children to develop symptoms associated with advanced age, such as baldness, wrinkles, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Now, a study published by Cell Press in the September 14th issue of the journal Developmental Cell uses a mouse model to shed light on progeria, and perhaps also on the normal aging process.

Progeria is caused by a mutation in the gene for lamin A that leads to production of "progerin", a truncated form of the lamin A protein that causes the to become misshapen. "How progerin causes progeria and whether it contributes to the normal aging process are areas of intense speculation," says senior study author, Dr. Colin L. Stewart from the Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore.

Dr. Stewart and colleagues had previously developed a for progeria. In the current study, they showed that the mutation associated with their mouse model produces a progerin-like truncation of lamin A and causes post-natal connective tissue cells to stop producing an extracellular matrix. The lack of this surrounding matrix then causes the cells to stop dividing and to die. However, the researchers did not see the same effects when they studied . This difference between pre-natal and post-natal effects on cell behavior in the is significant because children with progeria appear normal at birth but develop signs of accelerated aging soon after, often dying from heart disease while they are still in their teens.

The researchers go on to show that the defects in the extracellular matrix in mouse and human progeria cells are due to abnormalities in a protein network called the . "Our results provide support for the hypothesis that progeria is a disease of the connective tissue which manifests as abnormalities in the skeleton, teeth, skin and vasculature," concludes Dr. Stewart. "If these failures are due to defective Wnt signaling and/or cytoskeletal-extracellular matrix function, they suggest possible new routes of intervention that may help in treating this disease."

As there is also evidence for defective lamin production in the vascular system during the normal aging process, the researchers are keen to explore potential implications of their new findings in these and other aspects of both progeria and normal aging.

Explore further: Missing protein restored in patients with muscular dystrophy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lamin B locks up Oct-1

Jan 12, 2009

A large fraction of the transcription factor Oct-1 is associated with the inner nuclear envelope, but how and why it is retained there was unknown.

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

7 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

9 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments : 0