A Tissue Engineered Model of Aging: Interdependence and Cooperative Effects in Failing Tissues
Aging remains a fundamental open problem in modern biology. Although there exist a number of theories on aging on the cellular scale, nearly nothing is known about how microscopic failures cascade to macroscopic failures of tissues, organs and ultimately the organism. The goal of this work is to bridge microscopic cell failure to macroscopic manifestations of aging. We use tissue engineered constructs to control the cellular-level damage and cell-cell distance in individual tissues to establish the role of complex interdependence and interactions between cells in aging tissues. We found that while microscopic mechanisms drive aging, the interdependency between cells plays a major role in tissue death, providing evidence on how cellular aging is connected to its higher systemic consequences.