Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A new study, published in eLife, uses advanced tissue analysis technology to show how the incorporation of new proteins changes in bone and cartilage with age.

View through bone © Shutterstock

During ageing, cellular and physiological processes naturally decline and this is a particular problem in collagen-rich tissues such as the articular cartilage and bone, where tissue turnover is low and repair of the tissue is reduced with age. Reduced repair capacity increases the risk of common age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA), non-union after bone fracture, and osteoporosis.

Protein studies have previously indicated levels of protein in a tissue at any given time, but are unable to provide information on how much is being newly synthesised and incorporated into the tissue. A new study, published in ELife,  uses a new methodology that gives researchers the ability to examine protein synthesis in situ, providing details of activity in the tissues under normal physiological conditions at different ages.

The tissues in the cartilage, bone and skin are made up of an extracellular matrix (ECM), which is a dynamic network composed of collagens and proteins, and collectively known as the matrisome.

The research team at the Kennedy Institute used an in vivo technique called pulsed SILAC labelling in healthy mice to show changes in the synthesis of proteins of the matrisome over three stages of life: during maximum skeletal growth, and at young, and older adulthood.

Metabolic labelling with stable isotopes in combination with quantitative proteomics were used to estimate the rates of incorporation of new proteins into cartilage, bone and skin. Plasma was used as a reference tissue comparator.

The study found that comparing young adult with older adult mice, new protein incorporation was reduced in all tissues and this was particularly marked in cartilage and bone. Changes were less apparent in skin, perhaps in line with what is known about its ability to self-renew throughout the healthy lifespan.

Tonia Vincent, Professor of Musculoskeletal Biology said: "Although new protein incorporation changes significantly in all tissues after skeletal maturity, it displays distinct temporal and molecular tissue signatures. As some of these changes affect pathways implicated in age-related disease, the study may be identifying tissue changes that predispose to subsequent osteoarthritis and osteoporosis."

Similar stories

Vaccination safety: generating accurate evidence is the clearest path to creating public trust

A new study shows that a vaccine surveillance method in observational data may generate high number of false positives

Fiona Powrie appointed new Deputy Chair of Wellcome’s Board of Governors

Fiona Powrie, Director of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford has been selected as the next Deputy Chair of Wellcome’s Board of Governors.

A drug being trialled to treat cancer, could be the key to reducing gut inflammation

Published in Nature Communications, a new study reveals a new signalling pathway behind macrophage inflammatory activity

Single-cell ancestry vaccine research funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has provided $2 million in funding to investigate how our ancestry and diversity influence the way that vaccines work in our cells.

New research reveals link between ankle pain and onset of knee osteoarthritis

A new study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Open could help improve the lives of people at risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.

Arm and shoulder disability and pain after breast cancer surgery reduced by exercise

The debilitating arm and shoulder disability and pain that some women who have had breast cancer surgery experience as a side effect of their surgery can be reduced by following a physiotherapy-led exercise programme after their operation, a new study has found.