What is Ageing?

An individual living at the age of 70 above and performing all routine activities of life and looking around 55 to 60 year old is something interesting and rewarded and a curious subject to discuss.


Why somebody gets or looks older at a young age is really a matter of concern. I am reminded of Podgers disease in which an individual becomes old at aver very young age, a rare disease.

Since ancient times we have been hearing about the use of drugs, therapies, medications, herbs,hybrids,and many more to attain longevity for remaining young and say good bye to ageing. Every individual wants to remain young.

What is ageing ?It is believed that certain deleterious changes occur in cells and tissues with advancing age and these changes are responsible for the increased risk of disease and death also. However, ageing is very much confined to living organisms especially to humans.

It is deemed to be a highly complex process and there are multiple factors responsible for this physiological process. One thing needs to be understood is that ageing is neither a disease nor disorder. A number of theories have been put forward to throw light on this complex, interesting and  topic of choice.

These very theories are include free radical theory of ageing, Mitochondrial theory of ageing, Neuroendocrine theory of ageing, Gene regulation theory of ageing, Telomere theory of ageing, Inflammation hypothesis of ageing, Immune theory of ageing, Neuroendocrine-immuno theory of ageing, Evolutionary theory of ageing.

Literature scanning reveals that free radical theory is widely accepted among all the theories put forward to explain the phenomenon of ageing. The free radical theory of ageing was formulated by Harman in fifties.

He hypothesized that genetic and environmental factors which led to the accumulation of endogenous oxygen radicals in cells could be responsible for ageing and later on death of all living organisms.

Later on it was identified that mitochondria, power house of the cell, could be responsible for initiation of chemical reactions leading to generation and accumulation of free radicals in cells. Naturally, these free radicals would damage the mitochondria and life span of an organism would be influenced by the rate at which these free radicals are generated.

Normally these free radicals are defeated by our antioxidant defense mechanisms of the body. So an imbalance between the two would have consequences on age related oxidative stress. No doubt, reactive oxygen species are generated in the environment inhabited by all living organisms.Mitochondia,popularly known as power house of the cell is the basis of energy production in  living organisms especially eukaryotes.

These very reactive oxygen species leak outside via mitochondrial membrane and these very free radicals are known to have relationship with ageing. Literature screening reveals that the presence of enzymes like superoxide dismutase acts as scavenging enzymes which defer the process of ageing in Drosophila. Such scavenging enzymes possess increased resistance to oxidative stress.

In addition to free radical theory of ageing, studies have explored the mechanisms of ageing related to DNA because physiological integrity of mammalian cells is linked to this genome. Oxygen free radicals happen to consider their target around mitochondrial DNA on account of coding mutations around it.

Calorie content has also been studied as possible cause of ageing especially in animals. It has been observed that reduction in calorie intake happens to increase life span by acting as triggering factor for reduced energy metabolism, increased biosynthesis and turnover of proteins.

Lastly, who doesn’t want to remain young. Why old cells undergo breakdown. This is a fundamental question needs to be understood and answered. No doubt, further studies need to be carried out to explore this subject of biology. Biogerotologists have a challenge to solve the cause of ageing and at the same time increase longevity in humans.

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