Researchers combat aging as a "stem cell disease"

Having a few too many "senior moments"? Researchers at the University of South Florida, who are looking at aging as a stem cell disease, may be able to offer some hope after determining that a combination of nutrients called NT-020 promoted adult neural stem cell proliferation in aged rats while boosting their memory performance.

"The notion that aging is a stem cell disease has been gaining popularity," says study senior author Paula Bickford. "Our hypothesis is that aging alters the local environment in the brain and other organs and can promote an environment that retards the growth of stem cells."

The scientists tested two groups of aged laboratory rats; one group received NT-020, while the other did not. In the NT-020 group, the process by which neurons are generated--called neurogenesis--increased. In earlier studies, NT-020 was shown to have beneficial effects on animals with simulated stroke. NT-020 has also been shown to encourage the proliferation of adult stem cells, which have the potential to develop into tissue and bone cells and also migrate to areas of damage to help with repair. Their findings are published in the current issue of Rejuvenation Research.

"Aging has been linked to oxidative stress, and we have previously shown that natural compounds made from blueberries, green tea, and amino acids, such as carnosine, are high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative activity," says Sandra Acosta, the study's lead author, in a release. "The combination of these nutrients, called NT-020, creates a synergistic effect that promotes the proliferation of stem cells in the aged animals."

- read the release