Aging: The Telomere Theory (Cellular Aging)

There are so many theories as to why we age.

Biological Only:

Phenotype(Selected) Theories:

Telomere

Telomere (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Disease Theories:

  • DNA Damage
  • Autoimmune

Genetic Theories:

Today I would like to focus on The Telomere Theory.

At the heart or nucleus of a cell, our genes are located on twisted, double-stranded molecules of DNA

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

called chromosomes. At the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres, which protect our genetic code.  Telomeres make it possible for cells to divide.  Each time a cell divides, the DNA opens up and the information in the DNA is copied. However when this happens the process does not copy all of the DNA information (i.e. the telomeres are not copied). When the cell is finished dividing, the DNA comes back together. The telomeres then loses a little bit of their length every time the DNA is copied.  Telomeres are made out of sequences of DNA (chains of chemical code), nucleic acid bases: guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine.

Cells normally can divide only about 50 to 70 times.  Each time the telomeres are getting shorter and shorter until the cells become old, die or gets damaged.  Shortened telomeres activate a mechanism that prevents further cell multiplication. This may be particularly limiting in tissues such as the arterial lining where cell division occurs repeatedly throughout our life.  Cell division is needed so we can grow new skin, blood, bone and other cells when needed.

In anti-aging research, researchers can use the length of telomeres to determine a cell’s age and how many more times is will replicate. When a cell stops replicating, it begins the cellular equivalent of aging “cell senescence”.

Side note telomeres do not shorten with age in tissues like the heart muscle because the cells do not continually divide.

English: DNA replication or DNA synthesis is t...

English: DNA replication or DNA synthesis is the process of copying a double-stranded DNA molecule. This process is paramount to all life as we know it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Link to have telomere testing

Link to National Institute of Aging, part of The National Institutes of Health

 

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