A new study has revealed that a blood hormone known as growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) declines with age, and old mice injected with this hormone experience a reversal in signs of cardiac aging.
The findings shed light on the underlying causes of age-related heart failure and may offer a much-needed strategy for treating this condition in humans.
"There has been evidence that circulating bloodstream factors exist in mammals that can rejuvenate tissues, but they haven't been identified. This study found the first factor like this," senior study author Richard Lee of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital said.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, causing shortness of breath and fatigue, and it is becoming increasingly prevalent in the elderly.
The most common form of age-related heart failure involves thickening of heart muscle tissue. But until now, the molecular causes and potential treatment strategies for this condition have been elusive.
The findings are published in the journal Cell.