Genetics and Epigenetics of Aging and Longevity

Clearly we are going to be hearing a lot about the genetics and epigenetics of aging in the years ahead. The price of biotechnologies in this field has fallen, sequencing and analysis is cheap, and interest in intervening in the aging process is growing. Sadly, and as I've outlined in past posts, I don't see this as a path towards greatly extending the healthy human life span. Researchers will learn a great deal about how aging progresses, and produce benefits for other areas of medicine, but work on genetic analysis and alteration of epigenetic patterns can only be a hard and complicated path to slowing aging through manipulation of the operation of metabolism. As an end goal that is of very limited benefit to those of us who will be old before it arrives.

Here is an open access review from researchers involved in one of the current commercial ventures focusing on the genetics and epigenetics of aging:

During aging, vital bodily functions such as regeneration and reproduction slowly decline. As a result, the organism loses its ability to maintain homeostasis and becomes more susceptible to stress, diseases, and injuries. A loss of essential body functions leads to age-associated pathologies, which ultimately cause death.

Evolutionary theories of aging predict the existence of certain genes that provide selective advantage early in life with adverse effect on lifespan later in life (antagonistic pleiotropy theory) or longevity insurance genes (disposable soma theory). Indeed, the study of human and animal genetics is gradually identifying new genes that increase lifespan when overexpressed or mutated: gerontogenes. Furthermore, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms are being identified that have a positive effect on longevity.

The gerontogenes are classified as lifespan regulators, mediators, effectors, housekeeping genes, genes involved in mitochondrial function, and genes regulating cellular senescence and apoptosis. In this review we demonstrate that the majority of the genes as well as genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that are involved in regulation of longevity are highly interconnected and related to stress response.



I think that epigenetics is the most accessible method for the average person to increase health if not lifespan thru food/supplements/exercise and other lifestyle choices. Waiting for some expensive intervetion in the future is probably not the way to go.

I look at the most probable causes of death...try to intervene lifestyle-wise...look at foods/supplements and things like exercise and stress reduction known historically to have a higher probability of prolonging healthy life.

Statistically I might have 15-20 years left....hopefully I'll be gone before the worst effects of global warming/over-population hit. So I don't fret politics and the trashing of the planet all that much...the cards have been dealt. All I can do is avoid the suffering if possible....try to respect what life is left.

Posted by: fred at April 9th, 2014 3:08 AM

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