Changes in proteins play important role in aging kidneys

Aging causes many changes in the body and in essential organs such as the kidneys, which function less efficiently later in life. Age-related changes in the kidneys have mostly been reported by looking at the transcription of genes — the process by which a segment of DNA is copied into RNA. The current study suggests that this approach, combined with studying changes in proteins, gives us a better understanding of age-related changes in the kidney and may point to new approaches for treating age-related kidney dysfunction.

“Physiological changes in kidney function during aging are well documented, but little is known about the underlying molecular processes that drive this loss of function,” explains first author Yuka Takemon, who was a research assistant at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, US, when the study was carried out, and is now a PhD student at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, University of British Columbia, Canada. “Many previous studies of these physiological changes have looked at the transcription of genes into proteins by measuring messenger RNA (mRNA), but we wanted to see if we could gather more insights by combining this approach with studying protein levels in the kidney.”

In their study, Takemon and colleagues looked at age-related changes in kidney function in about 600 genetically diverse mice. They also measured changes in mRNA and proteins in kidney samples from about one-third of the animals.

They discovered an age-related pattern of changes in both mRNA and proteins in the mice that suggests the animals have increasing numbers of immune cells and inflammation in their kidneys, as well as decreased function in their mitochondria, which produce energy for the cells.

However, not all of the changes in proteins corresponded with changes in the mRNA, suggesting that some of the protein changes occur after the transcription of genes into RNA. This could mean that older kidneys become less efficient at building new proteins, or that proteins are broken down more quickly in older kidneys. If further studies confirm this, it could mean that therapies or interventions that promote protein building or slow protein breakdown may be beneficial for treating kidney diseases associated with aging.

“Our study suggests that mRNA measurements alone provide an incomplete picture of molecular changes caused by aging in the kidney,” concludes senior author Ron Korstanje, Associate Professor at the Jackson Laboratory. “Studying changes in proteins is also essential to understanding these aging-related processes, and for designing possible new approaches for treating age-related diseases.”

Top Articles

Parasitic worms cause cancer — and could help cure it

Billions worldwide are infected with tropical worms. Unsurprisingly, most of these people live in poor countries, kept poor by the effects of worm-related malnourishment. What may surprise many is that worms also cause the majority of cases of some cancers in these countries.

Read More

Phytochemicals: beyond vitamins

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive chemicals in plant foods that protect plants from microbial invasions and infections.

Read More

Sharp increase in falls in women during midlife

Falls are not just a problem of advanced age, according to researchers, who have identified a sharp increase in falls after the age of 40, particularly in women.

Read More

Latest News

Having a strong life purpose eases loneliness of COVID-19 isolation, study finds

Why can some people weather the stress of social isolation better than others, and what implications does this have for their health? New research found that people who felt a strong sense of purpose in life were less lonely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read

A new model of Alzheimer’s progression

Scientists explore how protein and signaling pathways change in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Their work creates a new model of disease progression, taking advantage of the heterogeneity that is inherent to human studies.

Read

Potential new treatment target for Alzheimer’s disease

A new study not only sheds light on how the APOE4 gene may cause some of the pathologies associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but also suggests a new treatment target that might help people who carry the APOE4 gene in early and late stages of the disease. Researchers found that APOE4 is associated with the activation of an inflammatory protein that causes a breakdown in the blood-brain barrier which protects the brain.

Read

“Our bodies are our gardens - our wills are our gardeners.”

William Shakespeare