Study reveals key gene related to primate arterial aging

BEIJING, Xinhua -- Chinese researchers have identified a gene that is related to arterial aging in primates.

Age-related changes in artery properties are high-risk factors for some cardiovascular diseases. But scientists' understanding of arterial aging and the development of early interventions have been limited.

Researchers from the Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University and other Chinese research institutions analyzed the aging aortas of cynomolgus monkeys.

The aorta is one of the most lesion-susceptible regions with age. Analysis shows the cynomolgus monkeys' aging aortas exhibited characteristics of arterial aging, such as increased wall thickness, fibrous cap formation and arterial calcification.

Using the technology called single-cell transcriptome sequencing, the researchers found that the expression of FOXO3A, a gene that is thought to play a role in longevity, decreased in six types of monkey vascular cells during aging.

They then knocked out the FOXO3A gene in human vascular endothelial cells. The vascular endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels, regulating vascular wall function. The cells presented significant cellular degeneration, such as reduced abilities in proliferation, movement and repairability.

The findings have been reported in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers said their study provides insights into the understanding of primate arterial aging and clues for developing new treatment of age-associated vascular disorders in the future.

In another study published last year in Cell Stem Cell, the same Chinese team obtained the world's first FOXO3A-enhanced human vascular cells using gene editing.

Compared with the FOXO3A-deficient vascular endothelial cells, FOXO3A-enhanced cells are significantly enhanced in proliferation, tube formation and vascular repairability in vivo, holding the potential to be used as graft material for treating vascular degenerative diseases.


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