A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has reported the identification in mice of a hormone able to prevent the age-associated reduction in thymus activity. The authors suggest that it might be useful in delaying the age-associated decline in immune function which is associated with ageing.
Dr Donald Palmer, Associate Professor in Immunology at Royal Veterinary College and British Society for Immunology spokesperson, said:
“This is a very interesting and encouraging study which demonstrates the possibility of delaying the age-associated decline in immune function that is recognised to occur in the aged. The thymus is a key organ associated with deterioration of immune function in the aged and is responsible for the production of T cells. In this study, the group identified a hormone that was able to prevent the age-associated reduction in thymus activity and showed that this hormone was able to produce new T cells in ‘middle-age’ mice. While these studies only involve mice, it does highlight the possibility to manipulate the immune system and could provide the platform for further research involved in boosting immune function.”
‘Prolongevity hormone FGF21 protects against immune senescence by delaying age-related thymic involution’ by Youm et al. published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday 11th January.
Dr Donald Palmer: I have no conflicts of interests to declare