When a person ages, their skin becomes less smooth and firm, body parts begin to ache, muscles lose their strength, and other issues like forgetfulness or inability to do daily activities with ease may appear. Overall, since it is impossible for all living creatures to avoid aging, people’s purpose is to age healthily. Various factors, including environment, lifestyle, and genetics, can cause some genetic disorders linked to premature aging. The purpose of this paper is to talk about the genetic basis of the normal aging process.
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The process of aging and the role genetics plays in it are studied by many biologists. In their article titled “Genetic and Epigenetic Regulation of Human Aging and Longevity,” Morris et al. (2019) mention the latest data on the contributions of genetics to human longevity and aging. This academic piece may be considered reliable and credible since its authors have degrees in Geriatric Medical Sciences or Molecular Biology.
This article is rather valuable for the field of genetics. According to the authors, approximately fifty-seven gene loci are involved in lifespan (Morris et al., 2019). They believe that “dysregulation of transcriptional and chromatin networks is likely a crucial component of aging” (Morris et al., 2019, p. 1718). The authors also outline the normal genetic process of age and state that the interaction of several phenomena contributes to it.
First, previously inactive genes leak because highly regulated chromatin marks drift towards an entropic middle-ground between active and repressed. This process is connected with the replication of young well-differentiated cells into their eventual senescence (Morris et al., 2019). Further, chromatin connectivity is broken, and constitutive heterochromatin changes to senescence-associated heterochromatin, defining the process of aging (1731). In addition, Morris et al. (2019) also discuss one of the most prominent longevity genes: the apolipoprotein E gene, and mention that some researchers argue that this is actually a “frailty gene” (p. 1721). Finally, implications for further research are also provided. It is necessary to consider the sex-specificity of longevity associations and racial differences, reach a consensus on the set of lifespan-related and multi-biomarker aging phenotypes, and explore possible interventions.
Morris, B. J., Willcox, B. J., & Donlon, T. A. (2019). Genetic and epigenetic regulation of human aging and longevity. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease, 1865(7), 1718-1744.