TERC, Telomeres, and Rate of Aging

The title of this EurekAlert! release is misleading - this isn't the first identified genetic variant associated with human longevity. But is is nonetheless interesting: scientists "have identified for the first time definitive variants associated with biological ageing in humans. The team analyzed more than 500,000 genetic variations across the entire human genome to identify the variants which are located near a gene called TERC. ... two forms of ageing - chronological ageing i.e. how old you are in years and biological ageing whereby the cells of some individuals are older (or younger) than suggested by their actual age. ... There is accumulating evidence that the risk of age-associated diseases including heart disease and some types of cancers are more closely related to biological rather than chronological age. What we studied are structures called telomeres which are parts of one's chromosomes. Individuals are born with telomeres of certain length and in many cells telomeres shorten as the cells divide and age. Telomere length is therefore considered a marker of biological ageing. In this study what we found was that those individuals carrying a particular genetic variant had shorter telomeres i.e. looked biologically older. ... The effect was quite considerable in those with the variant, equivalent to between 3-4 years of 'biological aging' as measured by telomere length loss."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/uol-sif020410.php


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