Whether you are young or young at heart, there is no doubt that you have experienced the feeling of being cold in your life. However, as we age, we may notice the cold feeling creeping in more often than it ever used to. Why is this? A new study by Yale and UCSF published in the journal Cell Metabolism may be able to explain.
Regrowth is Not Restoration, but Replacement May Be
In the study, researchers found that the immune cells stored within fat that have evolved to protect humans from the cold are to blame for increased susceptibility during the aging process. The study discovered that as mice aged, they lost innate lymphoid cells (ILC2.) These are the very same cells that rebuild and restore body heat while in the presence of cooler temperatures.
When researchers attempted to stimulate the production of new ILC2 cells in these same mice, they discovered that the aging mice were more likely to face a cold-temperature induced death. In fact, while the aging mice had a restored immune system, they were far more susceptible to the cold.
However, researchers found that transplanting ILC2 cells from younger mice into the aging mice did produce positive results. The aging mice were now more tolerant of the cold.
Bottom line: based on non-clinical research, regrowing the ILC2 cells did not actually restore them to their fullest potential, but full replacement allowed for potential tolerance against the cold to be met.
What About Aging Humans
These findings bring about an interesting thought: how can we restore the health, or in this case, cold tolerance, of the elderly? Potential eventual manipulation of the immune system must be undertaken with extreme care and diligence, and further studies are warranted. .