San Antonio science on display at aging meeting starting May 30

SAN ANTONIO (May 29, 2014) — Faculty members and students of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio will present novel research findings at the American Aging Association’s 43rd Annual Meeting May 30-June 2 in San Antonio.

This year’s meeting is hosting delegates from Europe, Asia, and South and Central America, with the largest group of attendees coming from the Barshop Institute, one of the premier aging research centers in the world with more than 150 scientists from a broad sweep of disciplines working toward a common goal of understanding the mechanisms of aging and using these insights to improve and extend human health.

Barshop Institute member Rochelle Buffenstein, Ph.D., professor of physiology in the Health Science Center’s School of Medicine, is the American Aging Association’s president this year and is the meeting chair. James Nelson, Ph.D., also of the Barshop Institute and physiology faculty, is the president-elect.

Several papers from Barshop delegates focus on the drug rapamycin, which has been shown to extend longevity in female mice. These papers include

• A possible mechanism explaining why rapamycin more strongly increases longevity in female mice than in males. (Karl Rodriguez, Ph.D.)

• A mechanism by which rapamycin suppresses a form of cellular aging by interacting with a tumor-suppressor protein. (Paul Hasty, Ph.D.)

• The effects of changes in dietary fat intake on rapamycin’s activity. (Adam Salmon, Ph.D.)

• The effects of rapamycin on the immune systems of both young and old mice. (Adriana Benavides, Ph.D., and Ellen Kraig, Ph.D.)

Other delegates will share data using the roundworm C. elegans, which provides a unique model organism for understanding the genetic basis of aging. Papers here include:

• Creation of a worm that expresses a fluorescent protein, which responds to changes in muscle-cell metabolism. (Phillip Webster and Alfred Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.)

• The role of cupins in metabolism and aging of C.elegans (Shane Rea, PhD). (Cupins are a family of proteins.)

• An explanation of how oxidative stress, which is a contributor to aging and age-related diseases, is sensed and controlled by the nervous system. (Sudipa Roy, Ph.D., and Dr. Alfred Fisher)

Other projects, by Dr. Peter Nathanielsz’s group and his collaborators from Mexico, reveal data on how developmental programming responses during fetal and neonatal life affect the rate of aging. Dr. Nathanielsz is professor of obstetrics and gynecology and co-director of the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The role of diet in bone quality during aging is the focus of a study on the agents in fish oil supplements that increase beneficial effect on bone. (Mizanur Rahman, Ph.D.)

The Buffenstein lab also will present several papers containing insights into aging gleaned from comparative biology studies involving the longest-living rodent — the naked mole-rat — which appears to show negligible senescence (processes of deterioration involved in aging). These papers include:

• Cell-protective activity that is increased in longer-lived rodents and could be a target for identifying novel anti-cancer and pro-longevity therapies. (Kaitlyn Lewis, student, and Rochelle Buffenstein, Ph.D.)

• Naked mole-rats’ ability to stave off cardiovascular aging such as arterial stiffening. (Kelly Grimes, student, and Dr. Buffenstein)

• Examinations of naked mole-rat brain cells that may allow them to maintain healthy brains despite elevated Alzheimer’s disease risk factors. (Miranda Orr, Ph.D., and Dr. Buffenstein)

“Barshop Institute faculty continue to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research in the biology of aging and are pushing the frontier on aging and longevity that will result in major advances in the treatment and prevention of age-related diseases,” Dr. Buffenstein said. “We are proud to be the hosts of this year’s annual meeting in San Antonio and look forward to lively discussions promoting new ideas and collaborative endeavors to facilitate our goals of healthier aging for all.”

For more information about the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Aging Association, visit

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