PerspectiveAging

Support cells in the brain promote longevity

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Science  24 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6476, pp. 365-366
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba4474

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Summary

Aging is a multifaceted process that results in organismal decay. At the cellular level, protein homeostasis is a key system that becomes dysregulated with age, causing the accumulation of aberrant or unfolded proteins. In a youthful individual, unfolded proteins normally trigger the unfolded protein response (UPR), which upregulates the protein clearance machinery and returns cells to a homeostatic state. The UPR is typically induced in a cell-autonomous manner. But some cells communicate protein folding stress to distal cells. For example, neurons communicate activation of the UPR to peripheral tissues to promote longevity in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans (1). On page 436 of this issue, Frakes et al. (2) show that support cells in the brain called glial cells (3) can also initiate long-range activation of the endoplasmic reticulum UPR (UPRER) in distal cells to coordinate stress resistance and longevity in C. elegans and that this occurs through neuropeptide secretion.

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