Lifespan and Stress Study Will Be Published in Acclaimed Scientific Journal
$10 Million Awarded to New Jersey Medical School
from the National Institute on Aging
NEWARK — If a pill was available to help you live longer, prevent heart disease, prevent osteoporosis, and allow you to eat more and still weigh less, would you take it? A mammalian study on lifespan and stress resistance was conducted by researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), who were recently awarded a $10 million grant from the National Institute on Aging. The findings of the study will be published in the July 27th edition of Cell, an internationally acclaimed scientific journal.
The researchers at UMDNJ-NJMS studied an enzyme in the sympathetic nervous system and its effects on the heart, which they believe helps prevent heart disease. Adenylyl Cyclase Type V (AC5) is an enzyme primarily found in the heart and brain and is responsible for catalyzing the release of cellular energy that supports cardiac function.
Using a genetically altered mouse model in which the gene for this enzyme has been deleted, or “knocked out”, scientists were able to examine the role of the AC5 enzyme in longevity and stress resistance. The study, “Type 5 Adenylyl Cyclase Disruption Increases Longevity and Protects Against Stress,” found that AC5 knockout (AC5 KO) mice not only live a third longer but were also “protected from reduced bone density and susceptibility to fractures of aging” when compared with their non-genetically altered counterparts, which are referred to as wildtype or WT. This study is the cornerstone of a $10 million “Longevity and Stress Resistance” Program Project Grant recently awarded to Dr. Stephen Vatner, University Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Medicine (CBMM) at the UMDNJ-NJMS.
The research group, led by Dr. Vatner, employed a protein-based approach to examine the intra-cellular mechanisms supporting their hypothesis, and found that alterations in kinases protected cells from death and oxidative stress and participated in the resultant longevity extension. These same pathways could also inhibit some cancers, the most common cause of death in the WT mice.
“These results suggest that the sympathetic nervous system in general and Type V Adenylyl Cyclase are fundamentally important mechanisms for regulating lifespan and stress resistance,” said Dr. Vatner.
These findings complement prior work by Dr. Vatner and his colleagues demonstrating inhibiting other components of molecular signaling in the sympathetic nervous system are beneficial for heart failure. The new goal that arose after conducting these studies is to find a pharmacological agent translating these findings to the treatment of patients to extend lifespan and protect against the stress of aging. Dr. Vatner points out that this work, which will be published in Cell, and the Program Project Grant related to this work, is not the result of one individuals work. Rather, both are a team effort; more than 22 scientists and an equal number of staff in the Department of CBMM contributed to this effort. Dr. Vatner singles out Dr. Junichi Sadoshima and Dr. Dorothy Vatner, both Professors at UMDNJ, NJMS who direct the other two major projects on the Program Project Grant, and Dr. Lin Yan, the first author on the Cell paper.
Members of the media seeking more information on the study may contact Kaylyn Kendall Dines at (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.