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Special Issue "Centenarians—A Model to Study the Molecular Basis of Lifespan and Healthspan"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Immunology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Annibale Puca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Medicine, Universita di Salerno, Salerno, Italy and IRCCS Multimedica, Milano, Italy
Interests: genetics of exceptional longevity; immunological phenotype of exceptional long living individuals; BPIFB4, a longevity associated protein, and its isoforms in health and diseases
Prof. Dr. Calogero Caruso
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Pathobiology and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy
Interests: ageing; age-related diseases; centenarians; immunogenetics; immunosenescence; inflammation; longevity; successful ageing; unsuccessful ageing
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The extraordinary rise in the elderly population in the Western world underscores the importance of studies on ageing and longevity to decrease the medical, economic, and social problems associated with the increased number of non-autonomous individuals affected by invalidating pathologies.

Centenarians show relatively good health, being able to perform their routine daily life and to escape or delay age-related diseases. The aim of this Special Issue is to understand, through a “positive biology” approach, how to prevent, reduce, or delay frailty and disability amongst the elderly. Indeed, rather than making diseases the central focus of study, “positive biology” seeks to understand the causes of positive phenotypes and explain the biological mechanisms of health and well-being.

In this Special Issue, studies on different aspects of centenarians are welcome.

Original research papers and reviews are equally welcome and may involve in vitro and in vivo studies in different cells and organisms.

Dr. Annibale Puca
Prof. Calogero Caruso
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • epidemiological aspects of longevity
  • genetics of longevity
  • epigenetics of longevity
  • immunological phenotype of long living individuals
  • phenotypic aspects
  • diet and lifestyle of long living individuals
  • BPIFB4, a longevity-associated protein and its isoforms in health and diseases

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Special Issue “Centenarians—A Model to Study the Molecular Basis of Lifespan and Healthspan”
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(4), 2044; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22042044 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1055
Abstract
People are living longer, not, as was previously the case, due to reduced child mortality, but because we are postponing the ill-health of old age [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Loss of Dystroglycan Drives Cellular Senescence via Defective Mitosis-Mediated Genomic Instability
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(14), 4961; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21144961 - 14 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 958
Abstract
Nuclear β-dystroglycan (β-DG) is involved in the maintenance of nuclear architecture and function. Nonetheless, its relevance in defined nuclear processes remains to be determined. In this study we generated a C2C12 cell-based DG-null model using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to provide insights into the role [...] Read more.
Nuclear β-dystroglycan (β-DG) is involved in the maintenance of nuclear architecture and function. Nonetheless, its relevance in defined nuclear processes remains to be determined. In this study we generated a C2C12 cell-based DG-null model using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to provide insights into the role of β-DG on nuclear processes. Since DG-null cells exhibited decreased levels of lamin B1, we aimed to elucidate the contribution of DG to senescence, owing to the central role of lamin B1 in this pathway. Remarkably, the lack of DG enables C2C12 cells to acquire senescent features, including cell-cycle arrest, increased senescence-associated-β-galactosidase activity, heterochromatin loss, aberrant nuclear morphology and nucleolar disruption. We demonstrated that genomic instability is one driving cause of the senescent phenotype in DG-null cells via the activation of a DNA-damage response associated with mitotic failure, as shown by the presence of multipolar mitotic spindles, which in turn induced the formation of micronuclei and γH2AX foci (DNA-damage marker), telomere shortening and p53/p21 upregulation. Altogether, these events might ultimately lead to premature senescence, impeding the replication of the damaged genome. In summary, we present evidence supporting a role for DG in protecting against senescence, through the maintenance of proper lamin B1 expression/localization and proper mitotic spindle organization. Full article
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Article
Healthspan Enhancement by Olive Polyphenols in C. elegans Wild Type and Parkinson’s Models
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(11), 3893; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21113893 - 29 May 2020
Cited by 42 | Viewed by 1449
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most prevalent late-age onset neurodegenerative disorder, affecting 1% of the population after the age of about 60 years old and 4% of those over 80 years old, causing motor impairments and cognitive dysfunction. Increasing evidence indicates that [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most prevalent late-age onset neurodegenerative disorder, affecting 1% of the population after the age of about 60 years old and 4% of those over 80 years old, causing motor impairments and cognitive dysfunction. Increasing evidence indicates that Mediterranean diet (MD) exerts beneficial effects in maintaining health, especially during ageing and by the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders. In this regard, olive oil and its biophenolic constituents like hydroxytyrosol (HT) have received growing attention in the past years. Thus, in the current study we test the health-promoting effects of two hydroxytyrosol preparations, pure HT and Hidrox® (HD), which is hydroxytyrosol in its “natural” environment, in the established invertebrate model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. HD exposure led to much stronger beneficial locomotion effects in wild type worms compared to HT in the same concentration. Consistent to this finding, in OW13 worms, a PD-model characterized by α-synuclein expression in muscles, HD exhibited a significant higher effect on α-synuclein accumulation and swim performance than HT, an effect partly confirmed also in swim assays with the UA44 strain, which features α-synuclein expression in DA-neurons. Interestingly, beneficial effects of HD and HT treatment with similar strength were detected in the lifespan and autofluorescence of wild-type nematodes, in the neuronal health of UA44 worms as well as in the locomotion of rotenone-induced PD-model. Thus, the hypothesis that HD features higher healthspan-promoting abilities than HT was at least partly confirmed. Our study demonstrates that HD polyphenolic extract treatment has the potential to partly prevent or even treat ageing-related neurodegenerative diseases and ageing itself. Future investigations including mammalian models and human clinical trials are needed to uncover the full potential of these olive compounds. Full article
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Article
Healthspan Maintenance and Prevention of Parkinson’s-like Phenotypes with Hydroxytyrosol and Oleuropein Aglycone in C. elegans
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(7), 2588; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21072588 - 08 Apr 2020
Cited by 49 | Viewed by 2219
Abstract
Numerous studies highlighted the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet (MD) in maintaining health, especially during ageing. Even neurodegeneration, which is part of the natural ageing process, as well as the foundation of ageing-related neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (PD), was [...] Read more.
Numerous studies highlighted the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet (MD) in maintaining health, especially during ageing. Even neurodegeneration, which is part of the natural ageing process, as well as the foundation of ageing-related neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (PD), was successfully targeted by MD. In this regard, olive oil and its polyphenolic constituents have received increasing attention in the last years. Thus, this study focuses on two main olive oil polyphenols, hydroxytyrosol (HT) and oleuropein aglycone (OLE), and their effects on ageing symptoms with special attention to PD. In order to avoid long-lasting, expensive, and ethically controversial experiments, the established invertebrate model organism Caenorhabditis elegans was used to test HT and OLE treatments. Interestingly, both polyphenols were able to increase the survival after heat stress, but only HT could prolong the lifespan in unstressed conditions. Furthermore, in aged worms, HT and OLE caused improvements of locomotive behavior and the attenuation of autofluorescence as a marker for ageing. In addition, by using three different C. elegans PD models, HT and OLE were shown i) to enhance locomotion in worms suffering from α-synuclein-expression in muscles or rotenone exposure, ii) to reduce α-synuclein accumulation in muscles cells, and iii) to prevent neurodegeneration in α-synuclein-containing dopaminergic neurons. Hormesis, antioxidative capacities and an activity-boost of the proteasome & phase II detoxifying enzymes are discussed as potential underlying causes for these beneficial effects. Further biological and medical trials are indicated to assess the full potential of HT and OLE and to uncover their mode of action. Full article
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Article
Hericium Erinaceus Prevents DEHP-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Apoptosis in PC12 Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(6), 2138; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21062138 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1750
Abstract
Hericium Erinaceus (HE) is a medicinal plant known to possess anticarcinogenic, antibiotic, and antioxidant activities. It has been shown to have a protective effect against ischemia-injury-induced neuronal cell death in rats. As an extending study, here we examined in pheochromocytoma 12 (PC12) cells, [...] Read more.
Hericium Erinaceus (HE) is a medicinal plant known to possess anticarcinogenic, antibiotic, and antioxidant activities. It has been shown to have a protective effect against ischemia-injury-induced neuronal cell death in rats. As an extending study, here we examined in pheochromocytoma 12 (PC12) cells, whether HE could exert a protective effect against oxidative stress and apoptosis induced by di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), a plasticizer known to cause neurotoxicity. We demonstrated that pretreatment with HE significantly attenuated DEHP induced cell death. This protective effect may be attributed to its ability to reduce intracellular reactive oxygen species levels, preserving the activity of respiratory complexes and stabilizing the mitochondrial membrane potential. Additionally, HE pretreatment significantly modulated Nrf2 and Nrf2-dependent vitagenes expression, preventing the increase of pro-apoptotic and the decrease of anti-apoptotic markers. Collectively, our data provide evidence of new preventive nutritional strategy using HE against DEHP-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells. Full article
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Article
Peripheral Circulating Exosomal miRNAs Potentially Contribute to the Regulation of Molecular Signaling Networks in Aging
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(6), 1908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21061908 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1414
Abstract
People are living longer than ever. Consequently, they have a greater chance for developing a functional impairment or aging-related disease, such as a neurodegenerative disease, later in life. Thus, it is important to identify and understand mechanisms underlying aging as well as the [...] Read more.
People are living longer than ever. Consequently, they have a greater chance for developing a functional impairment or aging-related disease, such as a neurodegenerative disease, later in life. Thus, it is important to identify and understand mechanisms underlying aging as well as the potential for rejuvenation. Therefore, we used next-generation sequencing to identify differentially expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) in serum exosomes isolated from young (three-month-old) and old (22-month-old) rats and then used bioinformatics to explore candidate genes and aging-related pathways. We identified 2844 mRNAs and 68 miRNAs that were differentially expressed with age. TargetScan revealed that 19 of these miRNAs are predicated to target the 766 mRNAs. Pathways analysis revealed signaling components targeted by these miRNAs: mTOR, AMPK, eNOS, IGF, PTEN, p53, integrins, and growth hormone. In addition, the most frequently predicted target genes regulated by these miRNAs were EIF4EBP1, insulin receptor, PDK1, PTEN, paxillin, and IGF-1 receptor. These signaling pathways and target genes may play critical roles in regulating aging and lifespan, thereby validating our analysis. Understanding the causes of aging and the underlying mechanisms may lead to interventions that could reverse certain aging processes and slow development of aging-related diseases. Full article
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Article
Exceptionally Long-Lived Individuals (ELLI) Demonstrate Slower Aging Rate Calculated by DNA Methylation Clocks as Possible Modulators for Healthy Longevity
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(2), 615; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21020615 - 17 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1307
Abstract
Exceptionally long-lived individuals (ELLI) who are the focus of many healthy longevity studies around the globe are now being studied in Israel. The Israeli Multi-Ethnic Centenarian Study (IMECS) cohort is utilized here for assessment of various DNA methylation clocks. Thorough phenotypic characterization and [...] Read more.
Exceptionally long-lived individuals (ELLI) who are the focus of many healthy longevity studies around the globe are now being studied in Israel. The Israeli Multi-Ethnic Centenarian Study (IMECS) cohort is utilized here for assessment of various DNA methylation clocks. Thorough phenotypic characterization and whole blood samples were obtained from ELLI, offspring of ELLI, and controls aged 53–87 with no familial exceptional longevity. DNA methylation was assessed using Illumina MethylationEPIC Beadchip and applied to DNAm age online tool for age and telomere length predictions. Relative telomere length was assessed using qPCR T/S (Telomere/Single copy gene) ratios. ELLI demonstrated juvenile performance in DNAm age clocks and overall methylation measurement, with preserved cognition and relative telomere length. Our findings suggest a favorable DNA methylation profile in ELLI enabling a slower rate of aging in those individuals in comparison to controls. It is possible that DNA methylation is a key modulator of the rate of aging and thus the ELLI DNAm profile promotes healthy longevity. Full article
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Article
Nutritional Mushroom Treatment in Meniere’s Disease with Coriolus versicolor: A Rationale for Therapeutic Intervention in Neuroinflammation and Antineurodegeneration
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(1), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21010284 - 31 Dec 2019
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 2696
Abstract
Meniere’s disease (MD) represents a clinical syndrome characterized by episodes of spontaneous vertigo, associated with fluctuating, low to medium frequencies sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), tinnitus, and aural fullness affecting one or both ears. To date, the cause of MD remains substantially unknown, despite [...] Read more.
Meniere’s disease (MD) represents a clinical syndrome characterized by episodes of spontaneous vertigo, associated with fluctuating, low to medium frequencies sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), tinnitus, and aural fullness affecting one or both ears. To date, the cause of MD remains substantially unknown, despite increasing evidence suggesting that oxidative stress and neuroinflammation may be central to the development of endolymphatic hydrops and consequent otholitic degeneration and displacement in the reuniting duct, thus originating the otolithic crisis from vestibular otolithic organs utricle or saccule. As a starting point to withstand pathological consequences, cellular pathways conferring protection against oxidative stress, such as vitagenes, are also induced, but at a level not sufficient to prevent full neuroprotection, which can be reinforced by exogenous nutritional approaches. One emerging strategy is supplementation with mushrooms. Mushroom preparations, used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, are endowed with various biological actions, including antioxidant, immunostimulatory, hepatoprotective, anticancer, as well as antiviral effects. For example, therapeutic polysaccharopeptides obtained from Coriolus versicolor are commercially well established. In this study, we examined the hypothesis that neurotoxic insult represents a critical primary mediator operating in MD pathogenesis, reflected by quantitative increases of markers of oxidative stress and cellular stress response in the peripheral blood of MD patients. We evaluated systemic oxidative stress and cellular stress response in MD patients in the absence and in the presence of treatment with a biomass preparation from Coriolus. Systemic oxidative stress was estimated by measuring, in plasma, protein carbonyls, hydroxynonenals (HNE), and ultraweak luminescence, as well as by lipidomics analysis of active biolipids, such as lipoxin A4 and F2-isoprostanes, whereas in lymphocytes we determined heat shock proteins 70 (Hsp72), heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), thioredoxin (Trx), and γ-GC liase to evaluate the systemic cellular stress response. Increased levels of carbonyls, HNE, luminescence, and F2-isoprostanes were found in MD patients with respect to the MD plus Coriolus-treated group. This was paralleled by a significant (p < 0.01) induction, after Coriolus treatment, of vitagenes such as HO-1, Hsp70, Trx, sirtuin-1, and γ-GC liase in lymphocyte and by a significant (p < 0.05) increase in the plasma ratio-reduced glutathione (GSH) vs. oxidized glutathione (GSSG). In conclusion, patients affected by MD are under conditions of systemic oxidative stress, and the induction of vitagenes after mushroom supplementation indicates a maintained response to counteract intracellular pro-oxidant status. The present study also highlights the importance of investigating MD as a convenient model of cochlear neurodegenerative disease. Thus, searching innovative and more potent inducers of the vitagene system can allow the development of pharmacological strategies capable of enhancing the intrinsic reserve of vulnerable neurons, such as ganglion cells to maximize antidegenerative stress responses and thus providing neuroprotection. Full article
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Review

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Review
Food Allergies and Ageing
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(22), 5580; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20225580 - 08 Nov 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 1599
Abstract
All over the world, there is an increase in the overall survival of the population and the number of elderly people. The incidence of allergic reactions is also rising worldwide. Until recently, allergies, and in particular food allergies (FAs), was regarded as a [...] Read more.
All over the world, there is an increase in the overall survival of the population and the number of elderly people. The incidence of allergic reactions is also rising worldwide. Until recently, allergies, and in particular food allergies (FAs), was regarded as a pediatric problem, since some of them start in early childhood and may spontaneously disappear in adulthood. It is being discovered that, on the contrary, these problems are increasingly affecting even the elderly. Along with other diseases that are considered characteristics of advanced age, such as cardiovascular, dysmetabolic, autoimmune, neurodegenerative, and oncological diseases, even FAs are increasingly frequent in the elderly. An FA is a pleiomorphic and multifactorial disease, characterized by an abnormal immune response and an impaired gut barrier function. The elderly exhibit distinct FA phenotypes, and diagnosis is difficult due to frequent co-morbidities and uncertainty in the interpretation of in vitro and in vivo tests. Several factors render the elderly susceptible to FAs, including the physiological changes of aging, a decline in gut barrier function, the skewing of adaptive immunity to a Th2 response, dysregulation of innate immune cells, and age-related changes of gut microbiota. Aging is accompanied by a progressive remodeling of immune system functions, leading to an increased pro-inflammatory status where type 1 cytokines are quantitatively dominant. However, serum Immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels and T helper type 2 (Th2 cytokine production have also been found to be increased in the elderly, suggesting that the type 2 cytokine pattern is not necessarily defective in older age. Dysfunctional dendritic cells in the gut, defects in secretory IgA, and decreased T regulatory function in the elderly also play important roles in FA development. We address herein the main immunologic aspects of aging according to the presence of FAs. Full article
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Review
Caenorhabditis Elegans and Probiotics Interactions from a Prolongevity Perspective
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(20), 5020; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20205020 - 10 Oct 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1949
Abstract
Probiotics exert beneficial effects on host health through different mechanisms of action, such as production of antimicrobial substances, competition with pathogens, enhancement of host mucosal barrier integrity and immunomodulation. In the context of ageing, which is characterized by several physiological alterations leading to [...] Read more.
Probiotics exert beneficial effects on host health through different mechanisms of action, such as production of antimicrobial substances, competition with pathogens, enhancement of host mucosal barrier integrity and immunomodulation. In the context of ageing, which is characterized by several physiological alterations leading to a low grade inflammatory status called inflammageing, evidences suggest a potential prolongevity role of probiotics. Unraveling the mechanisms underlying anti-ageing effects requires the use of simple model systems. To this respect, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans represents a suitable model organism for the study of both host-microbe interactions and for ageing studies, because of conserved signaling pathways and host defense mechanisms involved in the regulation of its lifespan. Therefore, this review analyses the impact of probiotics on C. elegans age-related parameters, with particular emphasis on oxidative stress, immunity, inflammation and protection from pathogen infections. The picture emerging from our analysis highlights that several probiotic strains are able to exert anti-ageing effects in nematodes by acting on common molecular pathways, such as insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IIS) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK). In this perspective, C. elegans appears to be advantageous for shedding light on key mechanisms involved in host prolongevity in response to probiotics supplementation. Full article
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Review
Royal Jelly and Its Components Promote Healthy Aging and Longevity: From Animal Models to Humans
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(19), 4662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20194662 - 20 Sep 2019
Cited by 42 | Viewed by 3876
Abstract
Aging is a natural phenomenon that occurs in all living organisms. In humans, aging is associated with lowered overall functioning and increased mortality out of the risk for various age-related diseases. Hence, researchers are pushed to find effective natural interventions that can promote [...] Read more.
Aging is a natural phenomenon that occurs in all living organisms. In humans, aging is associated with lowered overall functioning and increased mortality out of the risk for various age-related diseases. Hence, researchers are pushed to find effective natural interventions that can promote healthy aging and extend lifespan. Royal jelly (RJ) is a natural product that is fed to bee queens throughout their entire life. Thanks to RJ, bee queens enjoy an excellent reproductive function and lengthened lifespan compared with bee workers, despite the fact that they have the same genome. This review aimed to investigate the effect of RJ and/or its components on lifespan/healthspan in various species by evaluating the most relevant studies. Moreover, we briefly discussed the positive effects of RJ on health maintenance and age-related disorders in humans. Whenever possible, we explored the metabolic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms through which RJ can modulate age-related mechanisms to extend lifespan. RJ and its ingredients—proteins and their derivatives e.g., royalactin; lipids e.g., 10-hydroxydecenoic acid; and vitamins e.g., pantothenic acid—improved healthspan and extended lifespan in worker honeybees Apis mellifera, Drosophila Melanogaster flies, Gryllus bimaculatus crickets, silkworms, Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes, and mice. The longevity effect was attained via various mechanisms: downregulation of insulin-like growth factors and targeting of rapamycin, upregulation of the epidermal growth factor signaling, dietary restriction, and enhancement of antioxidative capacity. RJ and its protein and lipid ingredients have the potential to extend lifespan in various creatures and prevent senescence of human tissues in cell cultures. These findings pave the way to inventing specific RJ anti-aging drugs. However, much work is needed to understand the effect of RJ interactions with microbiome, diet, activity level, gender, and other genetic variation factors that affect healthspan and longevity. Full article
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