Researchers from the Institute of Cytology of the Russian Academy of Sciences found that oxidative stress, which causes aging of human cells, is characterized by a decrease in the level of potassium ions in them.
A source in the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, in a statement to the Russian news agency Novosti, indicates that this indicator can be used in the future in determining premature cell aging for various reasons.
It is reported that most tissues of the human body undergo cellular senescence, when a cell, for some reason, exhausts its ability to reproduce. Stress can cause premature cell aging, although normally the immune system destroys senescent cells in the body. But with age or with some disorders, these cells accumulate in tissues, causing aging of the body as a whole, the development of various diseases, including cancer. Therefore, scientists want to know what phenomena may indicate cell aging.
“We exposed human endometrial cells (tissues that line the inner cavity of the uterus) to oxidative stress, which causes premature aging,” says Irina Marakhova, senior researcher at the Institute of Cytology’s Laboratory of Intracellular Signals. cells to understand how aging affects the content and transport of intracellular cations – potassium and sodium, which are responsible for the vital activity of cells and are involved in the regulation of various cellular functions.
The researcher points out that so-called human endometrial mesenchymal stem cells were used in these experiments. These cells can develop into different types of cells. The results showed that premature cell aging caused by oxidative stress is characterized by a decrease in the specific content of potassium ions in them, which indicates dehydration.
“We found that during aging, the cell retains the ionic gradients characteristic of a normal cell (potassium content in the cell is higher, sodium content is lower than in the environment), but in an aging cell, the specific potassium content (the ratio between potassium content and mass) decreases”, she says. cell protein). This change indicates a decrease in the water content of the cell (dehydration) during the aging process.
“Also, intracellular potassium can be used as a marker to determine whether cells are prone to premature aging and dehydration,” she adds.