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Mom’s Genes May Influence Aging Process

Posted Sep 25 2013 10:08pm
Posted on Sept. 23, 2013, 6 a.m. in Mechanisms of Aging Mitochondria
Mom’s Genes May Influence Aging Process
Aging is due to an accumulation of various types of damage, with a number of published studies suggesting mitochondrial dysfunction to be a major contributor.  Nils-Goran Larsson, from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging (Germany), and colleagues explored whether it is possible to affect the degree of mitochondrial DNA damage through lifestyle intervention, considering that it may be that mild DNA damage transferred from the mother contributes to the aging process. Employing a mouse model, the researchers have shown that the aging process is influenced not only by the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA damage during a person's lifetime, but also by the inherited DNA from their mothers.  The lead researcher commented that:  “Our findings can shed more light on the aging process and prove that the mitochondria play a key part in aging; they also show that it's important to reduce the number of mutations.”
Jaime M. Ross, James B. Stewart, Erik Hagströom, Stefan Brene, Arnaud Mourier, Nils-Goran Larsson,  et al.  “Germline mitochondrial DNA mutations aggravate ageing and can impair brain development.”  Nature, 21 August 2013.
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Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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