The rate of aging can be predicted by the number of mutations

Scientists from the University of Utah have found that genetic mutations start accumulating even in the puberty, and the more they are, the higher the rate of aging and shorter life expectancy. Their research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has shown that people who have accumulated fewer mutations in youth, lived about five years longer. This discovery will help develop new measures to slow down the aging process. 

DNA damage is known to occur all the time in the body. Biological mechanisms exist to correct these damage, but as we age they begin to work less effectively. This causes various genetic mutations, which lead to the development of diseases, accelerated aging, and eventually death. As they grow older, such mutations accumulate, including in the germ cells, and the older the parents, the more mutations they transmit to their children (through sperm and egg).

According to American scientists, the number of genetic changes can predict the rate of aging and life expectancy in young people, as well as the length of the reproductive period in women.

The researchers conducted a genetic analysis of blood samples taken from 61 families consisting of a couple of parents and one child. They found out what kind of mutations the child received from which parent and determined the number of mutations each parent had accumulated in the germ cells by the time of conception. A comparison of generations allowed scientists to estimate the individual rate of aging.

"So, in comparison with the 32-year-old man at whom 75 mutations, the 40-year-old man with the same number of mutations grows old more slowly, - says the leading author of the research, Dr. Richard Kauto. - He is expected to live longer than a 32-year-old. 

The mutations begin to accumulate during or immediately after puberty, the experts found. This means that aging begins as early as adolescence.

Some young people have accumulated more mutations than others. Calculations have shown that those with fewer genetic changes will live about five years longer. According to the authors, the speed at which mutations accumulate depends on factors such as smoking and physical activity.

Besides, women with the greatest quantity of mutations had much fewer children, and their last child, as a rule, gave birth at a younger age. This suggests that the number of mutations affects fertility by reducing the length of the reproductive period.

Being able to determine when aging begins, how long women can remain fertile, and how long a person will live," says Kauto. - If we can better understand what causes mutations during puberty, we can develop new methods to restore DNA repair mechanisms and learn how to return the body to its pre-puberty state. If we can do this, people can lead to longer and healthier lives.

June 23, 2020, 11:33 a.m.

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