Stress response mechanisms of tissue-related and interorgan communication in aging and age-associated diseases

During the aging process, different stress response pathways, such as the unfolded protein response (UPR), the mitochondrial stress response (MSR), and the DDR – as studied in RA-1 – are tightly coordinated, thereby ensuring physiological integrity especially upon metabolic changes. Notably, different tissues have differing metabolic profiles that confer different responses when disturbances of these pathways occur. Beyond the cell autonomous control of these critical aging-regulating pathways, recent studies have identified cell non-autonomous regulation of cellular stress responses, suggesting interorgan communication mechanisms that are intricately balanced for integration and maintenance of the entire organism. Moreover, most studies to date have mainly addressed individual stress response pathways rather than examined their systemic coordination in specific cell types or between different organs. Thus, RA-2 aims to unravel the interplay between homeostasis pathways at the molecular, cellular, and organismal level as well as to define adaptation mechanisms in response to aging or inherited, disease-associated mutations. The key objectives of RA-2 are to investigate:

  1. metabolic and stress signaling in the epidermal communication axis,
  2. metabolic and stress signaling in the gut epithelium,
  3. metabolic and age-related adaptation of skeletal muscle,
  4. age-related multimorbidity of chronic kidney disease,
  5. interorgan and cell non-autonomous communication from an organismal perspective,
  6. germ cell-induced systemic stress response pathways.

Prof. Sabine Eming CECAD

Prof. Sabine Eming

Head of Research Area 2, Principal Investigator

+49 221 478-3196


Klinik und Poliklinik für Dermatologie und Venerologie

Uniklinik Köln
Kerpener Str. 62

50937 Köln


Prof. Dr. Björn Schumacher CECAD

Prof. Dr. Björn Schumacher

Head of Research Area 2, Principal Investigator, Institute for Genome Stability in Aging and Disease

+49 221 478 84202


CECAD Cologne

CECAD Forschungszentrum
Joseph-Stelzmann-Str. 26

50931 Köln


Research Area 2
Learn more about our research in a video

Figure 1: Interorgan communication

Figure 2: Epithelial wound in the Drosophila larval epidermis. One cell has been killed by laser. The neighbouring cells expand their apical membranes (black: PIP3-sensor) and form a contracting actin cable around the wound area (red).

Figure 3: mTORC1 and mTORC2 are activated during epidermal embryogenesis in mice and epidermal mTOR deficiency (mTOR-EKO) attenuates downstream signalling and epidermal barrier development and skin function (Ding et al., Nat Commun 2016)

Figure 4: C. elegans’ sense of smell depends on olfactory neurons (red); loss of function in odor perception results in deteriorations of the intestinal recycling system, visualized by the accumulation of green fluorescent protein (GFP).