-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The "core pathway" that
causes declining health due to aging has apparently been identified
Studying mice in a laboratory setting, they found that
malfunctioning telomeres are the basic cause of age-related health
problems such as declining energy levels, metabolic disorders such
as diabetes, and the failure of the heart and other organs.
Telomeres are the end-caps of chromosomes that protect against
DNA damage. The telomeres become shortened and frayed as cells
reach their pre-determined limit on the number of times they can
divide. When this happens to telomeres, the ends of the chromosomes
become vulnerable to increased rates of unrepaired DNA damage,
explained the team at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in
The accumulation of damaged DNA causes cells to activate a gene
called p53, which tells cells to either rest until the damage can
be repaired or to self-destruct.
The study appears online Feb. 9 in the journal
"What we have found is the core pathway of aging connecting several age-related biological processes previously viewed as independent of each other," senior author Dr. Ronald A. DePinho said in a Dana-Farber news release.
This research was conducted in mice, but the "findings bear
strong relevance to human aging as this core pathway can be
directly linked to virtually all known genes involved in aging as
well as current targeted therapies designed to mitigate the toll of
aging on health," said DePinho, who is director of the Belfer
Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber.
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging offers a
guide for healthy aging.
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