7 Tenets of Aging
There are innumerable things a person can read concerning aging, but at the most basic level, organisms age because their component cells age. We are all made of cells or cell products and as they falter, so do we.
Because cell aging is multifactorial, the organization of these concepts is important.
The Protocol organizes these various theories of cellular aging into seven categories or tenets. The information on this website discusses these concepts in the language of science. For the equally curious, yet less science oriented folks that find this a bit confusing, there is a more readily understandable version in the book that equates cells to a factory. By following the analogy, this information becomes more digestible.
The following seven tenets encompasses all of the presently known modes of cellular aging. Based on this organizational scheme, we will then develop a strategy where aging is curtailed in every category.
Information Systems (DNA): DNA is our information depot. Issues with aging in this category include epigenetic modification, accumulation of DNA damage, and telomeric integrity. Epigenetic modification encompasses changes to the “packaging” of the DNA , including methylation, histone modification and the like. Telomeres, the caps or ends of DNA, are known to shorten over time and are broadly correlated to the length of a life.
Cellular Energy: Mitochondria, cellular organelles, serve as our energy source. These organelles are rate limiting over time as their output declines, second to either damage from free radicals or simply declining availability of raw materials.
Cellular Pathways: The pathways are our aging or anti-aging pathways, such as the AMP Kinase, the Sirtuin or the mTOR pathways. These are like enzymatic dominoes that can either direct your cells and tissues to age or not age.
Quality Control: This category includes the DNA and Protein Repair mechanisms, which are key to repairing the ongoing damage inside your cells. As you get older and the damage becomes more extensive, these mechanisms get a bit stressed. This category also includes intracellular autophagy, a mechanism for cellular recycling.
Immune System: The cells that compose the immune system constitute your security system. Over time, unfortunately, this system becomes problematic and causes the body to be in a state of chronic and systemic inflammation. In addition,the failing immune system causes an increase in infection and cancer.
Individual Cells: Depending on the lifespan of particular cells, some live for days while some last a life time, their particular needs can be specialized. Some require an increased pool of nutrients, while others have more issues with trash accumulation.
Waste Management: Every cell has requirements for living, such as oxygen and glucose. Unfortunately, these can lead to increased aging. As an example, glucose forms molecular complexes called Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs), which are very destructive. As well, longer lived cells produce cellular waste, called lipofuscin, that accumulates and eventually causes space issues.