Home Life Style Researchers are investigating the factors that influence the aging process

Researchers are investigating the factors that influence the aging process

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It seems that the aging process is determined not only by changes that accumulate over life in the mitochondria of our cells but also by the DNA inherited from our mothers. This is the conclusion reached by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging. Researchers believe that mitochondria plays a key role in the aging process and a strategy in delaying this process would be to reduce the number of mutations.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature, shows that there are many causes of aging that are caused by different changes that alter the function of our organs. It seems that the most important of these changes are those that interest mitochondria, a cell organelle which is also called the cell’s power plant because it creates ATP. ATP, which has macroergic phosphate bonds, is the main source of chemical energy in the cell. Nils-Göran Larsson, Ph.D., professor at the Karolinska Institutet and principal investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging, explained that mitochondria contain their own DNA and that this DNA change more than cellular DNA; this significantly influences the aging process. Larsson said that mutations in mitochondria gradually disrupt the cell’s energy production.

aging process

aging process and DNA

This is the first study showing that the aging process is determined by two important factors: the accumulation of changes in the mDNA, and by the DNA inherited from our mothers. Larsson says that what is interesting is that they have shown that mitochondrial DNA that we inherit from mothers influence our process of aging, and that if inherit those  mutations too, we age faster.

We already know that normal and modified DNA is transmitted to descendants but what is not known is whether lifestyle changes may in any way influence the degree of damaged DNA. What we know so far is that the slight changes in the DNA of mitochondria that are transferred from the mother affect our aging process. Lead author Jaime Ross, Ph.D., at the Karolinska Institutet, said that low levels of mitochondrial DNA mutations can affect the development and cause brain deformities.

Barry Hoffer, MD, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the Department of Neurosurgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, noted that therapeutic interventions targeting mitochondrial function could influence the aging process. He added that certain drugs, such as antioxidants, could up-regular mitochondrial function and reduce mitochondrial toxicity.