Critical markers to tissue aging discovered, ASPS study reveals

NEW ORLEANS – Will we ever be able to treat aging on a molecular level? How about slow down, reverse, or prevent the aging process altogether? Well, a new study being presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual conference, Plastic Surgery The Meeting, October 26-30, in New Orleans, aims to address just that. According to the study, for the first time, plastic surgeons have identified specific molecular changes in genome structure that occur in fat that may serve as critical markers for tissue aging and, if these changes are reversed, may someday provide people with a more youthful appearance on a molecular level – no surgery required.

“Fat is an excellent model with which to study human aging,” said Ivona Percec, MD, ASPS Candidate Member and study lead author. “Plastic surgeons strive to treat the appearance of aging in an effective and natural manner through surgical intervention, an approach that can be compromised by the limitations of aged tissue. Our goal is to define the molecular changes responsible for normal human tissue aging to identify novel, less invasive, therapies for the prevention and treatment of aging.”

In the study, fat was taken from the abdomen of healthy patients ranging from age 18-85 who were undergoing plastic surgery. Fat cells and stem cells were then extracted and genes regulating aging were examined. Significantly, the study found that specific changes that occur to histones and other molecules regulating gene activity may serve as critical makers to tissue aging. In youth, DNA is bound around histone genes in a specific pattern, but that pattern changes as we age. By identifying these critical markers to tissue aging, the authors hope to someday reverse the changes that occur in order to recreate a more youthful pattern of DNA architecture. According to the authors, future application could be administered in pill, topical, or injectable form.

“Histones and the way our genes are organized in our cells are important to aging – they affect how cells age,” said Dr. Percec. “In future studies, we will investigate regulatory molecules that reverse changes in the human genome structure in an attempt to prevent or reverse aging in these cells. These findings, and planned future studies, are critical for advancing the understanding of how human tissues age and have significant implications for regenerative medicine applications in plastic surgery.”

The study, “A Discovery of Fat Through the Ages: The Role of Histone Modifications in Aging Subcutaneous Fat,” is being presented Sunday, October 28, 9:10 a.m., at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Reporters can register to attend Plastic Surgery The Meeting, October 26-30, in New Orleans or arrange interviews by contacting ASPS Public Relations at (847) 228-9900, media@plasticsurgery.org or in New Orleans, October 26-30, at (504) 670-4242.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

Contact ASPS

Media Relations
(847) 228-9900
media@plasticsurgery.org