Researchers recorded the death process using the example of a worm, in which blue fluorescent waves propagated from cell to cell until the entire body died.
The mechanism of dying off of individual cells has been well studied: it causes a chemical chain reaction, which leads to the destruction of parts of the cell and the formation of molecular debris. However, until now, scientists had a vague idea of how “death” is spread throughout the body. Looking at a dying worm through a microscope, researchers noticed blue light passing through the intestines in waves.
According to a study published in PloS Biology, cell death (necrosis) spreads through the body due to a chemical reaction involving calcium contained in the cells.
The research director, Professor David James of University College London, stated the following:
“We managed to find out exactly which chemical reactions contribute to the propagation of a cell death wave. And when we tried to prevent the passage of this light, in some cases, for example, when dying from an infection, it turned out only to slow down the process a bit, but we did not succeed in stopping the process of death from old age. This suggests that death from old age is due to a multitude of interrelated processes. ”
Scientists previously considered the substance of lipofuscin as a source of blue luminescence, a by-product of oxidative reactions that accumulates in the body with age, however, according to recent data, lipofuscin does not participate in the spread of the “blue wave of death”. Anthranilic acid is now considered the main cause of blue light.
“Taking into account all the data obtained, we questioned the popular theory, according to which old age comes as molecular damage accumulates in cells. Having studied the biological component of the aging and death processes, we will be able to understand how to suspend them, ”says Professor James.