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Hallmarks of Aging

Do you know you have two different ages? The obvious one is chronological age, or the number of years since you were born. The other is biological age, or the time-dependent decline of your body’s function and appearance.

Aging is characterized by a progressive loss of physiological integrity, leading to impaired function and increased vulnerability to death. This deterioration is the primary risk factor for major human pathologies, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Nowadays, aging is subjected to scientific scrutiny based on the ever-expanding knowledge of the molecular and cellular bases of life and disease.

Aging is the accumulation of cellular damage. Examples; atherosclerosis and inflammation, involve uncontrolled cellular overgrowth or hyperactivity.

Possibilities to intervene to delay aging involves the compensatory responses that try to re-establish homeostasis and the interconnection between the different types of damage.

In recent years, scientists studying the molecular and cellular processes that govern these changes and their variation in individuals have identified nine interconnected “hallmarks of aging”. Determined mainly by our genetics, but modulated by environmental factors, each of these nine hallmarks contributes to the damage that occurs with age and ultimately drives age-associated pathologies.

Genomic instability

The expression of instability due to exposure to smoke, chemicals or other exogenous agents leads to gene mutations, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and so on.

Telomere attrition

The normal DNA replication mechanisms in most of our cells are not able to copy the ends of our DNA completely, so the repetitive DNA sequences of the telomere region shorten with each cell division.

As the cell replicates, the telomere length will be shorten. Once telomeres depleted, it leads to cell death and organ failure.

Epigenetic alteration

There is no alteration in DNA sequence, but there is changes in genetic expression. This leads to various type of cancers. DNA is modified with epigenetic information that enhances or suppresses the expression of particular genes as required by different tissue types.

Loss of proteostasis

Proteins must be assembled in the correct way to perform their crucial cellular functions, and an important part of assembly is folding proteins into the proper shapes. Lack of protein in the body cause dysfunction or even cell toxicity. It may cause reduction of insulin production (a pepetide hormone). Insulin is the key hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Therefore, protein deficiency may lead to increased risk of diabetes and uremia.

Deregulated nutrient sensing

In diabetes and obesity, cells are exposed constantly to abundant nutrients, causing the cellular mechanisms that sense nutrients to become desensitized. This affects the cells function and growth.

Nutrients deficiency in Cell organelle such as vitamin deficiency, protein deficiency and mineral deficiency may cause epilepsy, depression and various disease.

Mitochondria dysfunction

Mitochondria are the energy production structures in cells. Increasing ROS (Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species) production triggers mitochondrial dysfunction, which causes further increases in ROS production and cellular deterioration. Dysfunction of mitochondria leads to cardiovascular diseases and neurological problems.

Cellular senescence

A state of stable growth arrest called cellular senescence. The process of cell proliferation, differentiation and physiological function decline gradually as we age. Senescent cells change dramatically in their function. Ultimately leads to chronic tissue inflammation and neurodegenerative disease.

Stem cell exhaustion

Your stem cells spend most of their time dormant, but as they are activated to heal wounds they are also susceptible to telomere shortening, DNA damage and cellular senescence. Growing old with reduction of hematopoietic stem cells and low platelet may cause osteoporosis, leukemia and other diseases.

Altered intercellular communication

Our cells constantly transfer information to each other, aging changes not only the signals that are sent by cells, but also the ability of receiving cells to respond to such signals. This communication errors lead to chronic tissue inflammation, reduce immune system function and cancer.

We now know how to stay young and healthy based on this 9 hallmarks of aging.

Remember, Aging can be reversible and preventable.

“The beginning of the end of Aging”

By: Dr.Lau Cher Rene - SOL Integrative Doctor

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