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Loss of Elasticity of Ageing Epithelial Cells, and Its Possible Reversal

I. Sokolov and C.D. Woodworth
Clarkson University, US

epithelial cells, ageing, mechanics of cells, scanning probe microscopy

We investigated human epithelial cells of different age in-vitro by means of the atomic force microscopy. We found that older cells are considerably (~2-10 times) more rigid that younger cells. This helps to explain why skin often looks and feels more leathery as we age. Despite the loss of elasticity of ageing skin has been know, previously researchers believed the culprit was only the biochemical ''glue'' that holds epithelial tissue together (dermis layer) rather than the cells themselves (epidermis layer). Further research has been focused on understanding the cause of the elasticity loss. We developed a novel method of studying cellular cytoskeleton by means of the atomic force microscopy (AFM), which allowed us to find that the elasticity change is associated with the increase of fiber density in the cytoskeleton. Based on this finding we found a biochemical way to reverse the loss of elasticity of due to aging. A new treatment causes the old cells to decrease in rigidity to the level of young cells. Currently, trials of the new treatment are carried on lab mice.

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