Washington, Feb 6 (ANI): Researchers from University of Iowa have found a link between smoking and premature aging.
They identified a key protein that is lost in Werner's syndrome (premature aging) is decreased in smokers with emphysema i.e. chronic lung disease,
This decrease harms lung cells that normally heal wounds.
"Smoking can accelerate the aging process and shorten the lifespan by an average of more than 10 years," said Toru Nyunoya, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and a pulmonologist with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
"We focused on what happens within the lungs because of the similar aging effects, including atherosclerotic diseases and cancer, seen in people with Werner's syndrome and people who smoke," Nyunoya added.
People with Werner's syndrome begin aging rapidly after adolescence and typically die from cancer or heart disease in their 40s or 50s.
During the study, the researchers compared lung fibroblasts (a type of cell) taken from nonsmokers without lung disease and patients with a heavy smoking history and severe emphysema.
They found that the cells taken from the smokers with emphysema had lost their ability to divide or grow, confirming that smoking habits cause cell aging.
These cells also had lower levels of Werner's syndrome protein, compared to cells from nonsmokers.
The team also applied cigarette smoke extract to cultured lung fibroblasts taken from nonsmokers.
They found that Werner's syndrome protein expression was decreased, and the cells had lost their ability to repair wounds.
"Werner's syndrome involves a genetic mutation that causes a deficiency in what's known as Werner's syndrome protein. The protein normally helps repair DNA damage," said Nyunoya.
"Smoking does not appear to cause the same mutation, but our study showed that it does decrease Werner's syndrome protein," Nyunoya added.
The findings appear in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. (ANI)