RhoA, Rho kinase, JAK2, and STAT3 may be the intracellular determinants of longevity implicated in the progeric influence of obesity: Insulin, IGF-1, and leptin may all conspire to promote stem cell exhaustion.

Academic Article


  • The aging process in higher mammals is increasingly being shown to feature a potentially substantial contribution from the longitudinal deterioration of normative stem cell dynamics seen with the passage of time. The precise mechanistic sequence producing this phenomenon is not entirely understood, but recent evidence has strongly implicated intracellular downstream effectors of endocrinologic pathways thought to be engaged by the obese state, specifically the insulin, IGF-1, and leptin signaling pathways. Among the intracellular effectors of these signals, a uniquely potent influence on stem cell dynamics may be attributable to Rho/ROCK, JAK kinase activity and STAT3 activity. In particular, it has already been shown that specific tyrosine kinase activities, such as that seen with Rho kinase, are presently thought to be associated with adverse health outcomes in numerous clinical contexts. Furthermore, the Rho GTPase is thought to be contributing to end-stage renal disease. However, in addition to its contribution to organ system dysfunction, the Rho/ROCK pathway has recently been shown to be activated by insulin and IGF-1, providing a tantalizing connection to nutrition and aging science. The JAK-STAT pathway, in contrast, has long been associated with pro-inflammatory cytokines, but has recently been implicated in leptin signaling as well. Importantly, JAK-STAT signaling has, similarly to Rho/ROCK signaling, been implicated as capable of accelerating stem cell proliferation. The implications of these recent determinations, in light of the recent finding of telomere attrition in humans associated with obesity, are that the intracellular determinants of aging may already be known, and the known common influence of these signaling elements on longitudinal stem cell dynamics is a pronounced induction of proliferation, an elevation that has been linked to the pathologic evolution of longitudinal organ-level dysfunction and the organismal-level physiologic decline seen with the inexorable passage of time. Besides the obvious utility for the management for human age-related dysfunction that investigation of pharmacologic inhibitors of these proteins would provide, interventions such as caloric restriction and possibly intermittent fasting may beneficially influence stem cell proliferation dynamics and reduce intracellular correlates of mitogenic drive. Integrating the findings present in the present body of research may reveal endocrinological states that are compatible with longevity, and will also provide novel insight into the specific proteomic determinants of age-related physiologic decline, ushering in a new epoch of medicine that fosters the management of the "pre-etiopathology" of chronic disease and disability of aging, therefore mitigating the suffering widely thought to be inherent in the latter stages of life.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Medical Hypotheses  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Aging, Animals, Cell Proliferation, Humans, Insulin, Insulin-Like Growth Factor I, Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Janus Kinase 2, Leptin, Models, Biological, Obesity, Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases, Protein-Tyrosine Kinases, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, STAT3 Transcription Factor, Signal Transduction, Stem Cells, rho-Associated Kinases, rhoA GTP-Binding Protein
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Tapia PC
  • Start Page

  • 570
  • End Page

  • 576
  • Volume

  • 66
  • Issue

  • 3