Ageing – the role of genes

March 4, 2023

Ageing is interwoven into all living beings. As we are born, we will age and die. The passage of time marks changes that lead to a decline in overall health and an increased risk of age-related diseases. However, recent research has shown that there are genes and pathways that can promote longevity and delay the onset of age-related diseases. Ageing is increasingly being seen as a disease, not an inevitability. A disease, at least in theory can be cured. Let us find out what these are and whether we can play a role in how they work.

Three accepted longevity genes are sirtuins, AMPK, and mTOR. Sirtuins are a family of proteins that play a crucial role in regulating cellular processes such as metabolism, DNA repair, and stress resistance. They help to protect cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. Sirtuins also play a key role in the process of autophagy, which is the body’s way of removing damaged or dysfunctional cells.

AMPK, or AMP-activated protein kinase, is activated when cellular energy levels are low, and it plays a key role in regulating energy metabolism. By promoting the use of fats and sugars for energy production, AMPK helps to reduce the accumulation of toxic byproducts that can contribute to age-related diseases. AMPK also plays a role in promoting autophagy and reducing inflammation.

mTOR, or mechanistic target of rapamycin, is a gene that is known for its role in regulating cell growth and proliferation. While mTOR is important for growth and development during childhood, excessive activation of mTOR in adulthood can contribute to the development of age-related diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. By promoting autophagy and reducing inflammation, mTOR can help to keep cells healthy and functioning properly and delay ageing.

Interventions that target these genes can have significant benefits, eating less and exercising for example. Taking drugs such as metformin and rapamycin also seem to help. As research in this area continues to advance, it is likely that we will gain a better understanding of how these genes can be targeted to promote healthy aging and extend lifespan.

PS: please do not take any medicines on the basis of this article to increase longevity. Both Metformin and Rapamycin have side effects and should only be taken on a Doctors advice, it at all.

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