A group of researchers discovered another marker of ageing: they studied how the behaviour and work of monocytes – one of the most common types of immune cells – changes as the body of their owner’s ages.
For this, a group of male volunteers from 27 to 64 years old was assembled. The researchers obtained blood samples from them, extracted monocytes from them, and comprehensively studied these cells. Analyzing the differences between them, biologists tracked not only changes in the concentration of enzymes and other important biomolecules but also how the number and location of so-called epigenetic labels changed.
Subsequent work showed that all changes in the epigenetic structure of these regions of DNA were associated with two enzymes, MBD2 and MBD3. Before that, they were not correlated in any way with the ageing process of the body.
We know almost nothing about how the natural ageing process affects the molecular program of immune cells. We have followed how the vital activity of monocytes (one of the types of immune cells) of healthy people changes with age. Thanks to this, we have identified several regions in their genome, the epigenetic labels in which have changed greatly in one direction or another.
The study of these enzymes, scientists hope, will help to understand why they make changes in the structure of labels only in some regions of DNA and how these shifts affect the functioning of the immune system and the whole organism as a whole.