Cover Photo by Tyler Milligan on Unsplash
The Nine Hallmarks of Aging and AgeCurve
Aging (spelled ageing in British English) is a constant reminder of the passage of time and its purpose is a question that has intrigued and puzzled scientists for centuries. Aging is the process of becoming older, that involves a series of functional changes that appear over time and are not the result of illness or accident but occur as the result of accumulating disorders in the body’s structure and functions. It is an unpreventable chronological, social and biological process and is genetically determined and environmentally modulated.
1) As you grow old an accumulation of genetic errors due to genomic instability (high frequency of mutations) are accumulating in different parts of your body. But don’t worry, your nuclei are well equipped with proteins that regulate your DNA’s Repair and Packaging mechanisms in order to prevent tumors.
Naturally occurring DNA damages due to endogenous cellular processes are very frequent in the genomes of human cells, for example 10,000 oxidative damages per cell, per day can take place. But is the reduced DNA repair ability the important source of genome instability, which would eventually bring cancer, neurological and neuromuscular disorders.
2) Aging brings also telomere degradation, and that is your big enemy!
Telomeres— the nucleotides that live at the end of your chromosomes — are in charge of how quickly cells age and eventually die, and they are one of the most on the spot indicators of a person’s biological age. As a matter of fact, your chronological age— number of years that have passed since you were born or trips you’ve made around the sun — can differ significantly from your actual biological age— how well you’ve held up during those trips and how “aging damage” was accumulated to various cells and tissues in your body. The protein responsible for the maintenance of the length of your telomeres it’s called telomerase. In fact, the telomerase restores your telomeres, which are otherwise shortened when a cell divides via mitosis.
In a report published in 2018, researchers found that very short telomeres characterize diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis or primary immunodeficiency and bone marrow failure and at least 5,000–10,000 Americans have disorders related to short telomeres (leukemia).
3) Aging brings also epigenetic alterations — when genes are turned on or off by changing the chemical structure of DNA but not changing the coding sequence. These alterations have also been correlated with many human diseases, including different cancers, autoimmune disorders and neurological disorders.
In fact, the epigenetic clock (let’s call it your “epigenetic status”) is a promising biomarker of aging.
4) But aging comes also with mitochondrial dysfunction that brings lack of ATP (energy).
As you age your mitochondria — that is the powerhouses of your cells — start to decline as well. So, while taking your tablets of Coenzyme Q10 is a wise thing to do, testing your mitochondrial proteome is the “wisest” thing you can do.
Telomere damage, epigenetic deregulation, DNA damage and mitochondrial dysfunction are just the primary drivers of damage during aging, which will eventually induce senescence. Senescence can in turn drive aging in response to damage from stem cell exhaustion and chronic inflammation. Other responses, such as proteostatic dysfunction and nutrient signaling disruption, are also integrally linked with the senescence response
5) So, let’s talk about cellular senescence.
Normally the body removes your problematic cells via apoptosis in conjunction with the immune system. Unfortunately, some cells evade apoptosis, taking up space in your various tissues, pumping out inflammatory signals that can eventually damage the tissues. These cells are known as senescent cells.
The senescent cells secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and extracellular matrix proteases (ugly stuff), which together form the SASP (senescence-associated secretory phenotype). The SASP is thought to significantly contribute to aging and cancer.
6) Another thing to “control” as you age is the mechanism in charge of quality control for protein synthesis (proteostasis). Proteostasis means that you have biological networks within your cells that control the biogenesis, folding, trafficking and degradation of your proteins.
Unfortunately, the decline in quality control of protein degradation can give rise to more than 50 diseases including Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lysosomal storage disorders, senile systemic amyloidosis, fibroma and many others.
7) Nutrient sensing — cells ability to recognize and respond to fuel substrates such as glucose — is also gradually declining as you age.
The insulin and IGF-1 signaling pathway (glucose homeostasis) is a critical aging mechanism. Current evidence indicates that increased nutrient signaling accelerates aging, and decreased nutrient signaling — achieved with caloric restricted diets or by stimulation of sirtuins (activating sirtuins with NAD+ precursors) — promotes health span and longevity.
8) Moreover, the decline in regenerative capability of different tissues with aging, along with a significant reduction in the number, proliferative capacity or differentiation potential of distinct stem cells, has led to the idea that aging is due, at least in part, to the loss of functional adult stem cells needed for tissue repair.
9) Finally, altered intercellular communication is another of the integrative hallmarks of aging.
For example, increased inflammation across your body leads to cells increasingly activating nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kB), a protein that regulates also inflammation. When NF-kB is activated in the hypothalamus (somewhere in your brain), it has been shown to inhibit the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and its reduction may contribute to bone fragility, muscle weakness, skin degradation and other harmful effects as you age.
So, how can you check several Hallmarks of Aging, all at once?
The answer comes from AgeCurve, a startup 🚀 that provides deep age profiles by sequencing and quantifying thousands of human proteins implicated in the Nine Hallmarks of Aging.
AgeCurve’s test, based on non-invasive saliva collection (meaning is very easy to do at home), has been designed to help you monitor your biological aging process (⏳⌛️) by giving you a score for seven out of nine hallmarks of aging. The kit also measures bacterial proteins and the plan is to monitor (and score) all the nine hallmarks of age.
In short, if you want to monitor your aging journey just buy AgeCurve’s test and always remember that, “if you take care of things they last”.
Thanks for reading