Young blood

by Kevin Boehnke

Centuries ago in the dark forests of Hungary, Elizabeth of Bathory preyed upon the daughters of peasants and servants in a sadistic quest for youth and pleasure. On top of torture and murder, legend has it that she bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth.  Crazily, she may have been onto something.

There is promising research suggesting that transfusions of blood from younger animals into older animals (typically mice) can improve heart function, cognitive abilities, and muscle repair. This may be due to a protein in blood plasma called Growth Differentiation Factor 11 (GDF11). The amount of GDF11 in the blood declines with age, but when GDF11 levels are elevated to youthful levels, there is a remarkable improvement in heart and brain health.

Now, a group of clinicians are going to try giving patients with Alzheimer’s disease young blood as an experimental treatment. Since humans have been doing blood transfusions for centuries, this is a low risk procedure. If it works, the demand for blood might be going up, up, up! Watch out Red Cross; people might start wanting to sell their blood rather than donate it.

Elizabeth Bathory: eat your heart out! You should’ve tried blood transfusions instead.

Check out the article below!


Loffredo, Francesco S., et al. “Growth differentiation factor 11 is a circulating factor that reverses age-related cardiac hypertrophy.” Cell 153.4 (2013): 828-839. DOI

Villeda, Saul A., et al. “Young blood reverses age-related impairments in cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in mice.” Nature medicine (2014). DOI