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Stanford researchers find culprit in aging muscles that heal poorly

ey start off knowing they're supposed to be a muscle cell, they can change," said Rando. "If you're exposed to the wrong environment, it will change your fate."

Rando said the type of fibrosis that occurs in the aging muscle tissue is the same type seen in muscular dystrophy. He is already exploring how inhibiting Wnt signaling might help provide therapy for that disease.

Wnt has also popped up unexpectedly in work by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, published in the same issue of Science, who were studying the effects of a deficiency of a hormone called klotho. Klotho deficiency causes a syndrome that resembles extremely rapid aging in mice, which end up dying very young compared with normal mice. In seeking to understand why that happens, the NIH researchers discovered that klotho inhibits Wnt activity. The hypothesis is that klotho production declines with age, and thus its effectiveness against Wnt decreases, allowing Wnt activity to pick up and disrupt the normal signaling to the stem cells in a variety of tissues studied.

Rando said that, although the work of his team and the NIH researchers is different in terms of the techniques used and the questions being studied, "what's surprising is how supportive of each other the fundamental conclusions (of the two papers) are about Wnt signaling and aging."


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Contact: Louis Bergeron
louisb3@stanford.edu
650-723-3900
Stanford University Medical Center
9-Aug-2007


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