The one thing some people wish for is to live forever young; however, it is a natural stage in life we will all get to. Nevertheless, with profound research and understanding of the mechanism behind aging, ways can be developed to get us to that phase later rather than sooner. The causes and inhibitors of aging are still being investigated by researchers, and from their research so far, three theories have been developed to explain the potential causes of aging. Besides the causes, attention has also been drawn to how the process of aging can be slowed down, many works done have shown that a regulatory protein called sirtuin, an NAD+ dependent deacetylase may just be the answer to delaying aging.
Aging and causes of aging.
Aging is an age-related decrease in viability and increase in vulnerability. As we age we become more susceptible to diseases and lose our ability to carry out vigorous tasks. However, this definition does not clearly explain what is happening to the body on a cellular level when we age. Quite frankly, the definition of aging on a cellular level is hard to develop as it not yet clearly understood what drives aging biochemically. A definition given by a Russian scientist Vladimir Dilham may just be a sufficient definition at a cellular/biochemical level, he defines aging as “a process of disordered homeostatic stability of the internal environment.” Despite its difficulty to understand, three theories propose reasons as to why we age. The first theory is DNA damage, it is proposed that DNA damage affects cell renewal and stem cells, thereby deterring body repair. The second is free-radical effect caused by mitochondrial burning of energy with oxygen. Highly reactive compounds produced through the process causes harmful oxidative stress which accumulates over years and in turn causes aging. Perhaps one could stop breathing in oxygen to prevent aging, likely not a smart idea as one may just hasten death instead. Lastly, loss of telomeres, which proposes that the shortening at the end of chromosomes in a region called the telomere may just be the reason why we age, as it was noticed that the repeated base sequence of telomere shortened with aging.
Delaying the onset of aging.
Unless you are a vampire, getting old is inevitable. Nevertheless, researchers have been working on finding out ways on how to control aging and age-related diseases. Two recognized ways of delaying aging is by diet restriction and gene regulation. Researchers are paying closer attention to gene regulation. Sirtuins are gene regulatory proteins that control genes and other regulatory proteins that influence aging. These proteins may just be the solution to slowing down the process of aging without having to restrict diets. This means you can enjoy all those goodies, skip the gym, and sing forever young confidently.
So you mean I can skip the gym, eat junk and still live long and healthy?
Well…. not just yet, there is still ongoing research to fully understand how these proteins affect aging. However, it is known is that they are evolutionary conserved NAD+ dependent deacetylases and ADP ribosyl transferases. Sirtuin is a class of proteins with a member called SIRT1 (silence information regulation), a protein that plays the major role of slowing down aging.
A high amount of this protein present in the system is capable of inducing diet restriction physiology. Dietary restrictions induces transcriptional changes that promotes a more vigorous life and life span, sirtuins mimic these effects. It believed that red wine activates the sirtuins, so red wine may just have room in a diet restriction.
Earlier, I mentioned that one of the possible causes of aging is due to oxidative stress (second theory). Surprisingly, one of sirtuins functions is to attenuate oxidative stress. This makes the second theory of aging a potential accurate reason why we age. Keep following me here as I make it a little bit more complicated. Now, how are we sure that just because sirtuins reduce oxidative stress that oxidative stress may be the reason we age? How are we even sure that it is not just a coincidence that people who have high sirtuins live longer? As mentioned earlier, researchers are paying very close attention to the mechanism of this protein. They have performed numerous studies that have are all in agreement with function of sirtuins.
A study carried out on elderly mice and yeast is proof of sirtuins activity. Elderly mice showed an increase in life span when treated with resveratrol – a molecule that promotes the activity of sirtuins. Elderly mice not treated with resveratrol did not show any sign of reduced aging.
Now as unbelievable as it may sound. These proteins have the ability to reduce aging; one can literally turn back the hand of time with an elevated activity of sirtuins.
For more on the study carried out on elderly mice follow the link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18599363
How they work.
SIRT1 works by chromatin silencing and transcription repression. How is it possible that silencing a chromatin or repressing transcription does any good? The answer to this question is that not all genes that are transcribed are necessarily beneficial. Some transcribed genes may do more harm than good. For instance, for certain genes that are expressed with aging, SIRT1 targets those genes and make sure they are silenced. SIRT1 does this by interacting with other regulatory proteins that supress the expression of aging genes. These proteins, which have been marked inactive, are activated by SIRT 1 (through deacetylating) and are then able to control the expression of genes that promotes aging.
The third theory suggests the shortening of telomeres may just be the reason why we age. It is no surprise that sirtuins play a role regulating the silencing of telomeres as well. Sirtuins controlling both activities relating to telomeres and oxidative stress suggests that they may just be responsible for delayed aging.
With these remarkable findings, there is a potential to increase life-expectancy and prevent aging related diseases. More research is ongoing to ensure that sirtuins are better understood.
Turn your water to wine.