All posts by Editor

Acetylation and memory

Acetylation and memory

The capacity to remember things decreases with aging. A new study showed that older mice exhibited a erroneous acetylation pattern of histone H4 lysine 12 and therefore failed to activate a genetic program in the hypocampus needed to consolidate memories. When 3 month old mice underwent fear conditioning, the expression of 2229 genes changed while only 6 genes had a different expression in 16 moth old mice. Moreover, from the 2229 genes that were expressed differently in young mice, 1539 are specifically linked to associative learning. Previous studies had already indicated that acetylation is important in the formation of long-term memories. Repairing the acetylation program by adding the histon deacetylase inhibitor suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) increased the expression of learning associated genes and restored the cognitive abilities of the old mice.

Peleg et al. Altered Histone Acetylation Is Associated with Age-Dependent Memory Impairment in Mice. Science, 2010, 328(5979): 753-756.

The overpopulation myth

The overpopulation myth

The first ever study on the demographical effects of life extension has been conducted [1]. The paper investigates 5 different scenarios ranging from negligible senescence after age 60 to continuous rejuvenation. Even the most radical scenario only resulted in a 22% increase in population size over a 100 year period. Another, for most people totally unexpected result, was the finding that even a population of immortal persons with less than two children per family resulted in a finite population growth and the final population is only 1/ 1 – r time larger than the original population. However, I had already noticed in 2008 that population growth is limited (see green and red graph) [2].

[1] Gavrilov L. A., and Gavrilova N. S. Demographic Consequences of Defeating Aging. Rejuvenation Research, 2010 [Epub ahead of print].

[2] [Dutch]

Telomere shortening causes mitochondrial dysfunction

Telomere shortening causes mitochondrial dysfunction

In a new paper DePinho and colleagues investigate the effect of telomere shortening on mitochondrial function. When telomeres get shorter the tumor-suppressor p53 gets activated. In fast dividing cells (e.g. stem cells) this leads to cell cycle arrest and thus stem cell depletion. However, until now the effect of telomere shortening on post-mitotic cells was neglected. In this new study it is shown that telomere shortening in post-mitotic cells inhibits the transcription of PGC-1alpha and PGC-1beta, two master regulators of gene expression of mitochondrial proteins. This leads to mitochondrial dysfunction as evidenced by reduced mitochondrial DNA content and density, reduced oxygen consumption during state III respiration, decreased ATP synthesis, and increased ROS levels. The mice with short telomeres also exhibited heart problems such as age-progressive dilated cardiomyopathy with left ventricular wall thinning, increased left ventricular diameter, and reduced fractional shortening.

Sahin et al. Telomere dysfunction induces metabolic and mitochondrial compromise. Nature, 2011 [e-pub before print].

About Us


Stimulating, promoting and informing the public about life extension achieved by all kinds of biogerontological technologies including SENS, calorie restriction, genetics, regenerative medicine,…


Heales organizes lectures (for both the general audience as for scientists), info sessions and gatherings. Heales spreads information by newspapers, internet (websites, news and information e-mails), magazines, flyers, posters and all other media to achieve its goal in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and other countries.

Heales invites guest speakers and disperses information about scientific, social, economical, ecological and ethic backgrounds of life extension.

Heales organizes musical festivals, diners, lotteries and other events with the goal of collecting financial resources to realize its goals.

Heales supports events organized by others as well as research and all the other activities conducted by others that can help the organization to achieve its goals.