Chinese researchers have recently made an astonishing claim of a breakthrough in the fight against ageing. They assert that they have pinpointed a unique group of cells that contribute to the ageing process and propose that everyday vitamin C supplements could potentially mitigate its effects.
The identified cell subtype is said to envelop the motor neurons found in the spinal cord, believed to play a significant role in accelerating the ageing process. This discovery may shed light on the common phenomenon of a shuffling gait among the elderly, as reported by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, citing an unedited paper published in the renowned peer-reviewed journal Nature.
Conducted over a span of seven years, the study involved collaboration between researchers from three laboratories. The goal was to bridge the gap in knowledge surrounding the intricate mechanisms that link ageing with the crucial function of the spinal cord in maintaining overall health and mobility.
Utilizing animal experiments, the study was jointly supervised by Liu Guanghui and Qu Jing from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Zoology, along with Zhang Weiqi from the academy's Beijing Institute of Genomics.
By analyzing individual cells, the research team successfully identified unique cell clusters that developed around ageing motor neurons within the spinal cords of elderly primates. "These distinct cell clusters must have a specific life purpose," explained Liu during an interview with China's state-owned Science and Technology Daily. "Our further investigation revealed that they secrete a 'toxic' protein that contributes to accelerating the ageing of motor neurons."
Despite constituting just 0.3-0.4% of all spinal cord cells, motor neurons are paramount in regulating body movement, directing skeletal muscles throughout the body to control motor functions.
The report also quotes the paper, affirming that motor neurons are the most vulnerable cells within the spinal cord when it comes to ageing.
Additionally, the researchers explored the potential role of vitamin C in reducing signs of ageing. Although the everyday dietary supplement has been available for several decades, claims of its anti-ageing properties have yet to be indisputably proven through clinical trials.