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New Hormone Prolongs Lifespan, Decreases Aging In Mice

Update Date: Jan 13, 2016 10:56 AM EST

One new hormone with the exciting name of FGF21 can contribute to the 'Fountain of Youth', discover scientists from the Yale School of Medicine.

Produced by specialized cells in the thymus gland, it can increase the lifespan of mice by 40%. Higher levels of this exclusive hormone can also minimise the loss of immunity that comes with increasing age.

The study is also helping scientists to understand the immune function, and the treatment of cancer and type-2 diabetes, according to HNGN.

The T cells are produced by the thymus to help the immune system. But with age, its fat percentage increases and it cannot create new T cells, which is why a decrease in T cells can open a person to illnesses.

Vishwa Dixit led the team that tested transgenic mice with higher levels of FGF21. After knocking out this hormone's gene function, the team compared it to mice with increased levels of the hormone. It helped older mice by shielding their thymus from fatty degeneration during aging and improved its ability to create novel T cells. With less of the hormone, the thymus tends to degenerate faster in the older mice.

"We found that FGF21 levels in thymic epithelial cells are several fold higher than in the liver - therefore, FGF21 acts within the thymus to promote T cell production," Dixit said in a press release. "Elevating the levels of FGF21 in the elderly or in cancer patients who undergo bone marrow transplantation may be an additional strategy to increase T cell production, and thus, bolster immune function."

"We will also look to developing a way to mimic calorie restriction to enhance immune function without actually reducing caloric intake," Dixit added.

The study was published in Dec.16,2015 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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