Category — longevity
The ends of linear chromosomes have attracted serious scientific study—and Nobel Prizes—since the early 20th century. Called telomeres, these ends serve to protect the coding DNA of the genome. When a cell’s telomeres shorten to critical lengths, the cell senesces. Thus, telomeres dictate a cell’s life span—unless something goes wrong. Work over the past several decades has revealed an active, though limited, mechanism for the normal enzymatic repair of telomere loss in certain proliferative cells.[1. E.H. Blackburn et al., “Telomeres and telomerase: the path from maize, Tetrahymena and yeast to human cancer and aging,” Nat Med, 12:1133-38, 2006.] Telomere lengthening in cancer cells, however, confers an abnormal proliferative ability.
December 3, 2012 No Comments
A team of researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), headed by CNIO Director Mar-a Blasco, has demonstrated in a pioneering study on mammals that longevity is defined at a molecular level by the length of telomeres. The work-which is published today in the online edition of the journal Cell Reports-opens the door to further study of these cellular components in order to calculate the rate at which cells age and thus be able to determine life expectancy for a particular organism.
Chromosomes-the cellular containers holding the genetic information in living creatures-have repetitive sequences of DNA at their extremities called telomeres. These sequences act as hoods that protect the genetic material in the face of any external agent which might damage it and compromise the function of the cells.
October 3, 2012 No Comments
Psychological stress is suggested to accelerate the rate of biological aging. We investigated whether work-related exhaustion, an indicator of prolonged work stress, is associated with accelerated biological aging, as indicated by shorter leukocyte telomeres, that is, the DNA-protein complexes that cap chromosomal ends in cells.
We used data from a representative sample of the Finnish working-age population, the Health 2000 Study. Our sample consisted of 2911 men and women aged 30–64. Work-related exhaustion was assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory – General Survey. We determined relative leukocyte telomere length using a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) -based method.
After adjustment for age and sex, individuals with severe exhaustion had leukocyte telomeres on average 0.043 relative units shorter (standard error of the mean 0.016) than those with no exhaustion (p = 0.009). The association between exhaustion and relative telomere length remained significant after additional adjustment for marital and socioeconomic status, smoking, body mass index, and morbidities (adjusted difference 0.044 relative units, standard error of the mean 0.017, p = 0.008).
These data suggest that work-related exhaustion is related to the acceleration of the rate of biological aging. This hypothesis awaits confirmation in a prospective study measuring changes in relative telomere length over time.
July 24, 2012 No Comments
In 1984, University of California, Berkeley biology professor Elizabeth Blackburn and then grad student Carol Greider made the discovery that a quarter century later would win them the Nobel Pnze: They identified telomerase as the enzyme that protects the DNA in our chromosomes, in effect keeping our cells-and, to some degree, us-young. But telomerase is naturally produced only minimally and intermittently in some of our cells-just enough to grt. disposable us a maximum life span of around 120 years. Unless, that is, someone figures out how to increase the telomerase inside our bodies. Such tinkering with the basic machinery of life has been a theoretical possibility since the 1990s, when scientists
at the Bay Area biotech firm Geron and elsewhere identified the human telomerase gene.
July 19, 2011 No Comments
Guan JZ, Maeda T, Sugano M, Oyama J, Higuchi Y, Makino N. Mol Cell Biochem. 2007 Oct;304(1-2):353-60 .
Telomeres play a role in cellular aging and they may also contribute to the genetic basis of human aging and longevity. A gradual loss of the telomeric repeat sequences has been reported in adult tissue specimens. This study determined the percentage of telomere restriction fragment in various molecular-sized regions in addition to measuring the average telomere length. Mean telomere restriction fragment (TRF) length was determined by Southern blot analysis using a longer telomeric repeat probe with higher sensitivity. A significant decrease in longer telomere fragments and a quick increase in the shortest fragments were observed, especially in male subjects. There was a tendency that the age-adjusted telomere length was longer in females than that observed in males, while males lose the telomeric sequence faster than females. These data indicated that the percentage of longer telomeres fragments decreased, while the shortest fragments increased quickly with age. In addition, the longest telomere fragments decreased and the short fragments increased with a relatively stable frequency with age. There was also a significant difference in the longest telomere fragment percentage between males and female in their 40s and 50s, whereas no difference was observed in the mean TRF length. Interestingly, the changing rate of the longest and the shortest range group of TRF percentage associated with aging seemed quite different between before and after 50-year old with a gender-related contrast. This contrast implies a drastic change around the age of 50 of unknown factors that affect telomere attrition.
June 27, 2007 No Comments