Posted on Sep 23, 2013, 6 a.m.
Aging may not be determined not only by the accumulation of changes during our lifetime, but also by the genes we acquire from our mothers.
Aging is due to an accumulation of various types of damage, with a number of published studies suggesting mitochondrial dysfunction to be a major contributor. Nils-Goran Larsson, from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging (Germany), and colleagues explored whether it is possible to affect the degree of mitochondrial DNA damage through lifestyle intervention, considering that it may be that mild DNA damage transferred from the mother contributes to the aging process. Employing a mouse model, the researchers have shown that the aging process is influenced not only by the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA damage during a person's lifetime, but also by the inherited DNA from their mothers. The lead researcher commented that: “Our findings can shed more light on the aging process and prove that the mitochondria play a key part in aging; they also show that it's important to reduce the number of mutations.”
Jaime M. Ross, James B. Stewart, Erik Hagströom, Stefan Brene, Arnaud Mourier, Nils-Goran Larsson, et al. “Germline mitochondrial DNA mutations aggravate ageing and can impair brain development.” Nature, 21 August 2013.