Harvard Medical School scientists claim to have discovered a mechanism that may be the universal cause of aging. The study, published in the journal Cell, shows how DNA damage eventually leads to a breakdown in the cell’s ability to understand which genes are switched on and which are switched off. The cell’s decreasing ability to detect patterns of gene expression plays a critical role in aging, the researchers report.
“This is the first potentially fundamental, root cause of aging that we've found,” says Harvard Medical School professor of pathology David Sinclair. “There may very well be others, but our finding that aging in a simple yeast cell is directly relevant to aging in mammals comes as a surprise.”
Scientists have known that a group of genes called sirtuins are involved in the aging process. These genes, when stimulated by resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine known for his anti-aging powers, appear to have a positive effect on both aging and health. This study is the latest to draw attention to sirtuins, proteins involved in the aging process.
It has been previously shown that resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine provides heart benefits, preventing cardiovascular diseases, reducing heart inflammation, enabling stronger bones and preventing eye cataracts. The substance has the effect of an activator for more than 1,000 genes affecting the heart. The function of these genes changes as a person ages but the resveratrol helps the genes work the same way they do in a younger heart.
Resveratrol works as a biological survival mechanism that switches the body’s resources from fertility to tissue maintenance by activating protein agents known in people as sirtuins. Therefore, life is prolonged since it reduces at the same time degenerative diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s.