A.E. Mayes, C.D. Holyoak

The ageing of cells and tissues can be characterised by a decrease in the adaptive abilities and a progressive failure of maintenance and repair mechanisms. It has been suggested that if cells and organisms are exposed to brief periods of mild stress then stress response induced gene expression is up-regulated and the related pathways of maintenance and repair stimulated. As a consequence of this up-regulation it has been postulated that advantageous effects on anti-ageing and longevity should be observed.

Such a phenomenon in which stimulatory responses to low doses of otherwise harmful conditions improve health and enhance lifespan is known as hormesis.

We have investigated the potential of Repeat Mild Heat Shock (RMHS) as an in vitro model of hormesis to impact upon the functional properties of human dermal fibroblasts. Results will be described for primary cells derived from 3 donors: male, 6yrs; female, 22yrs; female, 65yrs. For each donor we have studied the impact of RMHS on collagen gel contraction, biomarkers associated with fibroblast function and the progression of these cells through differentiation lineages.

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