Considering Impairment of Regeneration in Aging

There is much debate over the origins and causes of the well-known decline in regenerative capability with age, characterized by reduced numbers of stem cells and reduced stem cell activity in tissue maintenance, among other mechanisms. A mainstream position is that this is an evolved response to damage, lengthening life by reducing the risk of cancer that might result from damaged stem cells, but at the cost of increasing frailty. There are other views, of course:

There is a viewpoint that suppression of the proliferative capacity of cells and impairment of the regeneration of tissues and organs in aging are a consequence of specially arisen during evolution mechanisms that reduce the risk of malignant transformation and, thus, protect against cancer. We believe that the restriction of cell proliferation in an aging multicellular organism is not a consequence of implementing a special program of aging.

Apparently, such a program does not exist at all and aging is only a "byproduct" of the program of development, implementation of which in higher organisms suggests the need for the emergence of cell populations with very low or even zero proliferative activity, which determines the limited capacity of relevant organs and tissues to regenerate. At the same time, it is the presence of highly differentiated cell populations, barely able or completely unable to reproduce (neurons, cardiomyocytes, hepatocytes), that ensures the normal functioning of the higher animals and humans.

Apparently, the impairment of regulatory processes, realized at the neurohumoral level, still plays the main role in the mechanisms of aging of multicellular organisms, not just the accumulation of macromolecular defects in individual cells. It seems that the quality of the cells themselves does not worsen with age as much as reliability of the organism control over cells, organs and tissues, which leads to an increase in the probability of death.


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