- Reviewed by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
It seems that every living thing ages — that aging is inevitable. Yet studies in animals have suggested that aging may, at least, be slowed. Scientists have been able to track this using genetic biomarker tests known as DNA methylation clocks, which indicate how rapidly body cells are aging. In a study published May 2, 2023, in Cell Metabolism, researchers found that when the blood supply of an old mouse was connected to the blood supply of a young mouse for three months, the organs of the young mouse aged dramatically. When the joined blood supplies were disconnected, the organs of the young mouse became biologically younger: in other words, the aging process could be accelerated and then reversed. The scientists then found that in people going through severe COVID-19, surgery for a hip fracture, or pregnancy, the clocks showed a sudden acceleration of aging followed by a reversal. This study did not identify the factors that cause or reverse aging, and we are still a long way from being able to slow human aging more powerfully than we can through living a healthy lifestyle. But this kind of research offers hope that someday, we will understand the aging process well enough to slow it.
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
About the Reviewer
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
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