-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A mother's genes can
affect the aging process in her children, a new study in mice
One of the major factors in aging is the accumulation of various
kinds of changes that occur in mitochondria, which are the
so-called power plants of cells.
Mitochondria have their own DNA, which changes more than the DNA
in the nucleus, and this has a significant impact on the aging
process. Many mutations in the mitochondria gradually disable the
cell's energy production, the researchers explained.
Their experiments with mice showed that the aging process is
influenced not only by the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA damage
during an individual's lifetime, but also by the mitochondrial DNA
inherited from their mothers. The findings suggest that people who
inherit mitochondrial DNA with mutations from their mother may age
However, experts note that research involving animals often
fails to produce similar results in humans.
The study by the researchers at the Karolinska Institute in
Sweden and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging in Germany
appears in the Aug. 22 issue of the journal
The study findings improve understanding of the aging process,
prove that mitochondria play an important role in aging and show
that it's important to reduce the number of mitochondrial
mutations, according to study co-leader Nils-Goran Larsson, a
professor at the Karolinska Institute and a principal investigator
at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging.
Study co-author Dr. Barry Hoffer noted that the "findings also
suggest that therapeutic interventions that target mitochondrial
function may influence the time course of aging." Hoffer is from
the department of neurosurgery at University Hospitals Case Medical
Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
"There are various dietary manipulations and drugs that can up-regulate mitochondrial function and/or reduce mitochondrial toxicity," he said in a Case Western news release. "An example would be antioxidants. This mouse model would be a 'platform' to test these drugs/diets," explained Hoffer, who is also a visiting professor at the Karolinska Institute.
The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines
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