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Donor mitochondria could influence metabolism, aging

Mouse study has implications for 3-parent babies

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6:13pm, July 6, 2016
mice

TWO OLD MICE  Elderly mice carrying one type of mitochondria (one shown, right) aged healthfully, while nearly identical mice carrying a different type of mitochondria (one shown, left) raised in the same conditions show more wear and tear. 

For a “three-parent baby,” getting disease-free mitochondrial DNA from a surrogate may do more than just avert disease: For better or for worse, a donor’s mitochondria could also affect the course of aging, new research shows.

Two strains of mice – genetically identical except for the source of their mitochondria, the energy centers of cells – aged very differently, researchers report online July 6 in Nature. Even though both mouse strains had healthy mitochondrial DNA, the mice with mitochondria that did not come from the same source as the rest of their DNA fared better later in life: After two years, these mice showed fewer signs of aging and had a lower incidence of tumors.

The results don’t necessarily mean that a mitochondria transplant leads to a healthier life. This is just one case, researchers caution. Other DNA mixes and matches could turn out

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