Stress that affects the developing fetus during pregnancy may cause aging accelerated in the future, according to the results of research conducted by the head of the Genomic Instability Group of the National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), Óscar Fernández-Capetillo, who has obtained the VI Banc Sabadell Award for Biomedical Research aimed at young scientists.

The young Basque researcher has specifically referred to the stress that cells suffer when they divide, a process that never repeats as much as during pregnancy.

Fernández-Capetillo, who has devoted his career to explaining the damage that occurs in DNA during the development of cancer and aging, assumes that this damage to genetic material is probably the most common universal characteristic among tumors, as well as the main cause of the aging of living beings.

In the laboratory, the scientist and his team have managed to develop models of replicative stress in mice, to which they have inhibited the protein that fulfills the function of avoiding genetic errors in the division of the DNA, verifying that these mice, which normally live two years, had an extremely aged appearance with only two months.

The origin of the damage in the DNA of the cell would occur during gestation, which is when the cell division is more abundant

The scientist believes that the origin of this damage in the DNA of the cell would occur during pregnancy, which is when the cell division is more abundant because it is forming a new human being that, at birth, would maintain this cell damage in the various organs.

The metabolic stress of the future mother increases the chances that her developing fetus may also suffer metabolic stress, as the scientist said, adding that, with these theses, a window opens "very interesting", in order to suppress problems during pregnancy , which could prevent cellular damage to the baby.

However, he has indicated that these arguments must be validated with ongoing research in animal models, which aims to demonstrate that with a treatment based on doses of proteins that help to avoid cellular stress, aging can be delayed.

In comparison with healthy cells, the tumors they present more replicative stress because they accumulate it, and the team of researchers is studying how to inhibit the response induced by replicative stress in animal models and in certain tumors.

It is a new therapeutic strategy yet to be explored, which Fernández wants to carry out together with clinical researchers, with the objective of fighting tumors in a personalized way.


Consequences of a stressful pregnancy (November 2019).