The Effects of Parabiosis on Aging and Age-Related Diseases

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020:1260:107-122. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-42667-5_5.


Parabiosis refers to the union of two living organisms by surgical operation, leading to the development of a shared circulatory system. It enables researchers to ask whether or not transmissible factors in the blood of one parabiont have physiological effects on its partner. In other words, parabiosis allows researchers to explore whether circulating factors in the bloodstream can alter tissue function. Heterochronic parabiosis, the pairing together of a young and aged organism, provides a unique experimental design to assess the effects of systemic milieu on the age-related processes. In the last 15 years, this experimental approach to study the aging processes at the whole organism level underwent a renaissance, with several studies demonstrating the rejuvenating effects of youthful systemic milieu on aging processes in the nervous system, skeletal muscle, heart, liver and other organs. The crucial question still mainly unanswered is the nature of circulating molecules that mediate "pro-youthful" effects of young and "pro-aging" effects of old system milieu.

Keywords: Aging; Heterochronic parabiosis; Rejuvenation; Stem cells; Systemic milieu.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / blood
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Disease*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Liver / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Parabiosis*