Health In Focus
  • Cell proteins within the mitochondria play a role in the aging process.
  • Targeting the cell protein called ‘carbonic anhydrase’ can slow the effects of aging in the body.
  • This discovery offers a new avenue to prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

A family of proteins found in the mitochondria, a powerhouse of the cell, could be the new target to slow the aging process, finds a research conducted by scientists at The University of Nottingham. This discovery could pave the way to develop new drugs that may halt the aging process.

Cell Proteins may Slow the Aging Process
Cell Proteins may Hold the Key to Slow Down Aging

The research carried out by Dr. Lisa Chakrabarti and PhD student Amelia Pollard in the University's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science focused on proteins within the mitochondria called as carbonic anhydrase, which plays a role in aging process. Mitochondria found in the cells serve as batteries in which biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur.

Dr. Chakrabarti said, "What's really exciting about this development is that we have been able to surmise that the function of this protein is playing a role in the aging process within the cell."

"This gives us a very promising start in working out how we can best target this protein within the mitochondria to slow the effects of aging in the body while limiting other unwanted side effects on the body. It could potentially offer a significant new avenue in both tackling degenerative illnesses and the general effects of aging on the body."

Carbonic Anhydrase - New Target for Aging

The researchers used a process called 2D gel electrophoresis to separate the proteins found within the mitochondria of the brain and muscle cells. The samples were collected from normal young brains and normal middle-aged brains for comparison.

In the middle-aged brain, the carbonic anhydrase was found in greater quantity and was more active. This increase was also found in young brains suffering from early degeneration, suggesting that the increase is detrimental. The scientists studied the effect of carbonic anhydrase on nematode worms to establish whether the increase is detrimental.

Tiny C elegans worms which are just one millimeter in length were fed carbonic anhydrase. The researchers found that carbonic anhydrase reduced the lifespan of C elegans worms. The research is published in the academic journal Aging.


Aging is a process which contributes to decline in performance, productivity and health. Aging is associated with a loss of muscle mass and decline in body's functions. The decline occurs at the age of 50 and becomes more pronounced in the 60s. Aging of the brain causes a decline in cognitive function, affecting memory, reasoning, and multitasking, leading to dementia and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

The current research could have significance for preventing age-related decline and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. The scientists are further working on their research to identify chemical compounds to target carbonic anhydrase and to study the effect of inhibitors on worms that have their lives shortened. This study lays the first step to the development of a new drug that targets carbonic anhydrase in the mitochondria to protect against aging and degeneration.

Source: Medindia

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