Researchers at the Baltic Federal University will study the aging rate of older people in Kaliningrad. Told about the project Head of the Center for Genomic Research IKBFU I. Kant (university – participant of the “5-100” program) Konstantin Popad’in.
Why do people age?
Biological cells have their own “energy stations”, which are called mitochondria. In fact, they generate the energy that the cell needs to function. Mitochondria have their own DNA, which is inherited only through the egg – that is, it is passed on to the child exclusively through the maternal line.
Over the course of human life, mitochondria undergo “breakdowns” – these are mutations caused by the loss of nucleotides (parts of DNA) or their replacement. This is one of the aging processes. For clarity, you can consider the proposal “mom washed the frame.” If you remove one word or replace the letter from “RAMU” with “ROMU”, the meaning of the sentence will change. This also happens with information in mitochondrial DNA. Often this “rebellious” mitochondria behaves rather selfishly – it reproduces more often than healthy neighbors. And at first, a rare and insignificant “breakdown” over time multiplies inside human tissues, leading to serious damage – the death of cells filled with “selfish” mitochondria.
Breakdown of mitochondria is a normal process during our aging. A real threat is cases when it comes to brain cells – neurons and muscle cells. Unlike the cells of other organs, they are not capable of dividing, which means they are not renewed. Diseased mitochondria are not replaced by healthy ones, leading to neurodegenerative diseases or progressive loss of muscle mass and strength.
When old age is not a joy
Scientists plan to answer the question when an active process of mitochondrial mutation starts in the human body. To do this, they will invite 500 volunteers aged 70 and over. Take samples of muscle tissue and read the genome on special equipment. A deep molecular analysis will make it possible to establish a correlation between a person’s age and the number of “breakdowns” in the mitochondrial genome. This will allow you to see the pattern and trends of this process.
Moreover, scientists expect to find an answer to the question of why people born in the same year and, perhaps, even with a similar lifestyle, have different biological ages. That is, why biologically one person ages earlier than another.
Of course, lifestyle in general, sports, nutrition play an important role in the speed of our aging. But there is also genetics. Scientists will be able to see which mitochondria are predisposed to be healthy and not mutate for hundreds of years, and which – only 80 or 50. Of course, the study will not explain all the causes of aging, but if at least the mitochondrial component of aging is established, this is already a lot.
Geneticists will assess the biological age of patients, as well as share recommendations that will delay aging.