Can Chromatography Help Define the Aging Process?

Mar 27 2017 Comments 0

We all get older. It’s one of the key elements of being alive — along with paying tax — that we age. But how do we define aging? Besides getting closer to death and getting more candles on your birthday cake — what does getting older mean?

At Pittcon 2017, held in Chicago recently, the topic of aging was up for discussion. A model was presented that considered aging in nematodes that could help healthcare professionals to better understand human aging and what it entails. And chromatography and mass spectrometry are playing key roles in the process of understanding how the body ages.

The aging body — it’s not linear

Aging affects many processes that take place in the body. Some changes are readily seen by people around us, grey hair is one, and more wrinkles due to skin becoming less elastic is another natural process many people fight against. Other processes happen inside our bodies away from prying eyes. Reduced lung function, changes in brain function and other physiological changes that affect how we cope on a day-to-day basis as we grow older.

Different organs ‘age’ at different rates, influenced by many environmental factors and lifestyle choices as well as our genetic make-up. Aging also affects the diseases we get too. For example, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease reduces after we get to 60, as does the rate that people succumb to cancer — so much so, that after we reach 80 years old we are more likely to die from something other than cancer or heart problems.

Immunosenescence — more coughs and colds?

One consequence of aging is a reduced immune system function — a process known as immunosenescence. Immunosenescence is simply the gradual reduction in immune system function as we grow older — generally means it gets harder to fight off infections and that the body doesn’t benefit from vaccinations or a normal antibody defence to new diseases or antigens.

To try and understand the reasons behind these changes, researchers are using proteomics — the large-scale study of proteins and their reactions in a single experiment. Basically, how a body’s proteins react or change following a reaction. In this case the reaction is to aging. One of the key techniques used in the study of proteins is liquid chromatography in conjunction with mass spectrometry — a topic discussed in the article, Improving Quantification of Protein Therapeutics by Standardising the Sample Preparation Approach to LC-MS/MS Analysis: High-sensitivity Bioanalysis of Infliximab, and Total Antibody Quantification.

Researchers are studying nematodes as a model for the changes in the immune system and aging — a process that has been shown to overlap in the nematodes Caenorhabditis elegans. By studying immunosenescence in C. elegans, the researchers hope to gain insights at the cellular and molecular into how aging and immunity are linked — and how that could help humans.

So, be nice to the worms.

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Chromatography Today - November / December 2017 Volume 10 Issue 4

December 2017

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