Correlating Rate of Aging With Metabolism in Infancy

Reliability theory can be used to model aging in terms of progressive failure of component subsystem, just as occurs in electronic equipment and other systems prone to complex forms of decay. One of the predictions that results from this method is that we are born with a preexisting level of damage, and so we should expect to see correlations between aspects of newborn biology and later aging.

On a similar note it has been determined in recent years that at least some species adjust the metabolism of their descendants in reaction to environmental factors such as availability of food. Calorie restriction, for example, doesn't just change the metabolism of the individuals that are living on fewer calories, but also results in different patterns of gene expression that show up in their offspring.

Here is an example of a correlation between early life metabolism and later life progression of aging in humans, which might be considered in the context provided by the above points:

Scientists have found that key metabolites in blood - chemical 'fingerprints' left behind as a result of early molecular changes before birth or in infancy - could provide clues to a person's long-term overall health and rate of ageing in later life.

One particular metabolite - C-glyTrp - is associated with a range of age-related traits such as lung function, bone mineral density, cholesterol and blood pressure. Its role in ageing is completely novel. Crucially, researchers found it was also associated with lower weight at birth when they compared the birth weights of identical twins. This finding suggests that levels of this novel metabolite, which may be determined in the womb and affected by nutrition during development, could reflect accelerated ageing in later adult life.

Scientists have known for a long time that a person's weight at the time of birth is an important determinant of health in middle and old age, and that people with low birth weight are more susceptible to age related diseases. So far the molecular mechanisms that link low birthweight to health or disease in old age had remained elusive, but this discovery has revealed one of the molecular pathways involved. "This unique metabolite, which is related to age and age related diseases, was different in genetically identical twins that had very different weight at birth. This shows us that birth weight affects a molecular mechanism that alters this metabolite. This may help us understand how lower nutrition in the womb alters molecular pathways that result in faster ageing and a higher risk of age-related diseases fifty years later."