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Theories Of Aging, Including The Telomere Theory, Oxidative Stress And Calorie Restriction Theories In Regards To Cell Senescence

962 words - 4 pages

The study of aging has received much attention in past decades. As the cliché goes, death is as inevitable as taxes, but scientists believe they might know why. No single theory has been deemed the cause of aging; rather there are many theories from a number of disciplines that overlap. If this is the case there must be a way to delay aging, thereby increasing lifespan. Three of the more published theories are the telomere, oxidative stress and calorie restriction theories which all have supporting evidence but do not solely explain why cells senesce.One theory embraced by many scientists is the telomere theory. Every chromosome ends in a telomere which shortens each time the cell divides; after repeated divisions and considerable telomere loss, the cell undergoes senescence (Steel, 1995). Progeria is a genetic disorder that results in accelerated ageing, Allsopp et al (1992) found that progeria patients had shortened telomeres, strengthening the argument that telomere shortening results in aging. But there is hope of a remedy.Studies show that telomerase, an enzyme high in egg and sperm cells, can mediate telomere synthesis thus counteracting losses from cell division (Hodes, 1998). However, there may be weaknesses associated with these results. Lahnert (2005) attempted to improve the method used to measure telomere length because various data from other studies are conflicting with some scientists even claiming that telomere shortening was barely a myth. Lahnert established that telomere shortening can be measured but admits that the method could be improved.The oxidative stress theory proposes that "programmed" mechanisms, such as telomere shortening, are not the only avoidable causes of aging. Free radicals produced through cell metabolism disrupt cellular function causing injury (Sharma & Kaur, 2006); this is what is referred to as oxidative stress. Mostly free radicals are derived from oxygen and carry and unpaired electron; these are referred to as reactive oxygen species (ROS). Free radicals injure cellular lipids, proteins and nucleic acids which may result in improper organ function (Sharma & Kaur, 2006).Our bodies do have in-built defences, antioxidants, but these are not completely efficient and damage from free radicals accumulates over time (Battino & Ferreiro, 2004). Battino and Ferreiro suggest increasing antioxidant intake in the diet as a means of intervention. Although Quiles et al (2006) supports the theory that oxidants are related to aging, they rebut claims that antioxidants could slow ageing. The evidence suggesting this is that animals with a long lifespan have low antioxidant levels and experimentally increasing antioxidant levels does not increase lifespan (Barja, 2004). The mechanism to reducing oxidative stress lies not only within antioxidants but also by lowering the levels oxidative stress; this is done by calorie restriction (Merry, 2004).Low calorie diets may slow oxygen use in mitochondria,...

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