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MIMAGE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 512020
Country: Germany

The role of mitochondria in ageing

A European consortium set out to discover the link between mitochondria and ageing. Study results are expected to open up new venues for the design of novel anti-ageing therapies.
The role of mitochondria in ageing
Ageing is a complex process, involving multifactorial interactions of molecules and pathways. The mitochondrial theory of ageing, where changes in the powerhouse organelles affect the cell lifespan and cause it to age, is gaining ground.

The objective of the EU-funded ‘Role of mitochondria in conserved mechanisms of ageing’ (Mimage) project was to elaborate the role of mitochondrial function in ageing. Project partners were particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms that control lifespan in biological systems on an evolutionary level.

To achieve this, a range of experimental organisms and cell culture systems were studied at the protein level. Known signalling pathways associated with ageing were investigated to establish a potential connection with mitochondrial function.

Mechanisms responsible for maintaining healthy and functional mitochondria were investigated including the effect of modulating mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) and dietary restriction. Additionally, available lifespan mutants and phenotypes were studied for their involvement in ageing.

The Mimage project managed to identify and define common signatures of ageing including key proteins and their post-translational modifications or damage associated with ageing. The control of functional mitochondria was linked to a hierarchical system which was also found to be of relevance for lifespan control. Although these mechanisms were not identical amongst species, it emerged that certain molecular modules were conserved amongst organisms.

The pathways identified by the Mimage project offer potential venues for exploitation in the quest to understand ageing.

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