The Biology of Aging: Key Processes and Their Impact

To understand what to do to slow the aging process, we first need to understand what happens in our bodies as we age. Of course, there are a myriad of things going on, but below are some of the main contributing factors to the negative aspects of aging.

Cell Damage

As we get older, our cells accumulate damage from things like stress, toxins, and genetic changes. This damage can make our cells work less well, which affects our overall health. (1)

Decline in Collagen Production

Collagen is like the glue that holds our body together, giving our skin its firmness, our bones their strength, and our joints their flexibility. As we age, we make less collagen, which can lead to saggy skin, stiff joints, and weaker bones. (2)

Decreased Hormone Production of Certain (Not All) Hormones

Hormones are like messengers in our body, controlling things like growth, metabolism, and reproduction. But as we get older, we make fewer hormones, which can cause issues like weaker muscles, slower metabolism, and changes in our ability to have children. (3) (4)

Neurotransmitter Imbalance

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in our brain that help nerve cells communicate. As we age, the levels of these chemicals can change, affecting things like memory, mood, and behavior. (5)

Sirtuin Dysfunction

Sirtuins are proteins that help our cells do important tasks like repair DNA and control inflammation. When sirtuins don’t work properly, it can contribute to problems like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. (6) (7)

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondria are like tiny power plants in our cells, making energy for everything we do. But as we age, these power plants can get damaged, leading to less energy and more stress in our cells. (8)

Telomere Shortening

Telomeres are like protective caps on the ends of our chromosomes, which hold our DNA. Each time our cells divide, these caps get shorter, eventually leading to aging and changes in how our tissues work. (9) (10)

Inflammation

Inflammation is our body’s way of fighting off infections and injuries, but as we get older, we can have more inflammation even when there’s no threat (usually a low grade chronic inflammation). This can lead to problems like heart disease, arthritis, and memory loss. (11)

Epigenetic Changes

Our genes can be turned on or off by chemical changes in our DNA, called epigenetic changes. As we age, these changes can affect how our cells function and contribute to health problems. (12)

Protein Misfolding and Aggregation

Sometimes proteins in our body don’t fold properly and can clump together, especially as we get older. This can cause problems like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. (13)

Stem Cell Exhaustion

Stem cells are like repair crews in our body, helping to fix damaged tissues. But as we age, we have fewer of these repair crews, which can make it harder for our body to heal itself. (14)

Glycation

Sugars in our blood can stick to proteins in our body and form harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). As we age, these AGEs can build up and contribute to problems like tissue damage and inflammation. (15)

Conclusion

Understanding the key biological processes involved in aging helps us identify strategies to mitigate their effects. By addressing these factors, we can work towards slowing down the aging process and improving overall health and longevity.
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References

  1. ​​https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-022-01251-0#Sec2 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4089350/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8020896/ 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6089223/ 
  5. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2022.931536/full 
  6. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/64094 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7390530/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748716/ 
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678010/ 
  10. https://irp.nih.gov/our-research/research-in-action/changing-cells-aging-bodies 
  11. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-023-01502-8#Sec47 
  12. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-022-01211-8 
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9909609/ 
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160113/ 
  15. https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/39525286/Sharma_et_al_Glycation_AGES-libre.pdf?1446127998=&response-content-disposition=inline%3B+filename%3DAmadori_product_and_age_formation_during.pdf&Expires=1710771257&Signature=fZhsZKjg9yaw0q8i-8uWnwVfOw5Z7-ViEMV7cJsKt2CJVFBMcJKAD3bBWTKUEym-tHlGFrLHA0cU2p~jBNDrZmyVNG73WFdVwjcjUt~wUtOONPPh0UTkMXyl~8a8TUhRtepRWFn~a4bQ3APuEhf1fbXydsIIKVXvYbvdIcans0J3HtyXrm-R8Ka9OCys2cnNQJk5Rc2Kz0dSHNIZT5FqTxKQR4gSPuYN54Fbu5nyBA2sMh~JGRSuD7ntFsIRThdrwm~xvkKdNRGATtevfALzCb3CJmgPuFwILw81XlJbEA4vf3be7CRHXnjwnnJptgCKubFVy-NdzRPCsFaC6zHNNw__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA 

 

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