The journey to finding how to effectively slow down the aging process received a big boost recently, as a team of international scientist were for the first time, able to identify one major trigger of the aging process. The culprit was discovered to be mitochondria, the known batteries of the cells in the body.

The study is being carried out in the Newcastle University and led by Dr. Joaso Passos. The research team involved the Newcastle University and other UK and US universities. Results from the study were published in the February, 2016 issue of the EMBO journal. They team discovered that cells behaved and looked like younger cells when mitochondria were removed from aging cells. The experiment conclusively proved that mitochondria are one of the major triggers of the aging process in cells. This revelation is expected to significantly help scientists develop products to counteract or slow down aging by targeting the cell’s mitochondria.

Counteracting cell aging

As a person grows older, the bodies suffer various kinds of damage that inflammation, which were though to trigger aging. The research team carried out various genetic experiments on laboratory grown human cells to eliminate the mitochondria found in aging cells. Our cells have the capacity to remove faulty mitochondria using a process known as mitophagy. What the scientist did in the experiments were to induce the cells to carry out this process in a large scale until the cells had removed all the mitochondria.

Surprisingly, the cells became rejuvenated and showed traits similar to younger cells after getting rid of all their mitochondria. Inflammatory levels reduced, and the expression of genes and oxygen free radicals dropped to levels similar to what is obtained in younger cells.

New thoughts on mitochondria

Dr Joao Passo from the Institute of Ageing described the results as exciting and surprising. He said the researchers had clues that mitochondria was somehow connected with cell aging, but scientist all over the world had never understood how or to what extent it affected cell aging. The test results prove that mitochondria are the main triggers for cell’s aging.