Inflammation and Aging

A paper published online in Molecular Cell has reported the results of a study that blocked a certain protein from being expressed in mice. The protein AUF1 is critical for binding and degrading mRNA specific for pro-inflammatory molecules. In this study, the mice lack AUF1, and (not surprisingly) they have a dampened inflammatory response. A bit surprising is the news that, even in a germ-free environment, the mice age very quickly. After further study, authors concluded that the anti-inflammatory AUF1 not only binds and degrades mRNA for pro-inflammatory molecules, but it also acts as a transcription factor responsible for triggering the production of telomerase – a very strange double-role for this type of molecule. Without telomerase, the chromosomes of the mice become degraded very quickly and the mice age prematurely.

Here is the popular science write-up (though take the “shocked” tone of the article with a grain of salt – we’ve suspected that inflammation and aging were connected for years – it is my understanding that it’s the dual role of AUF1 that is surprising and cool):

Here’s a link to the primary research article:


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