"Increasing evidence points to RTE activation in some cancers, in the adult brain, and during ageing," the researchers wrote. However, the exact contribution of RTE to aging and age-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s, is not known.
HIV therapies that block an enzyme that is essential for viruses to replicate, called reverse transcriptase, may offer a new way of treating age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s, a study suggests. The study, “L1 drives IFN in senescent cells and promotes age-associated inflammation,” was published in the journal Nature. Retrotransposon elements (RTE) work like "jumping genes" that are able to copy themselves and move around a cell’s chromosomes. Once these jumping genes insert into a new place in the DNA, they can modify and induce errors in nearby genes leading to genomic instability.Due to RTEs damaging effects, cells have developed a series of defense mechanisms to keep retrotransposons in check. Researchers at Brown University and colleagues found that one particular RTE, called LINE-1 or L1, is able to escape these control mechanisms. As we age, our cells stop dividing, a condition called senescence. Researchers saw that in senescent human fibroblasts the levels of L1 were four to five times higher than usual. Importantly, L1 reactivation triggers an antiviral immune response mediated by a molecule called type 1 interferon (IFN-1), which is involved in inflammatory responses. During cellular aging, cells first activate an early DNA damage-response,