The 12 hallmarks of aging
Our clinic is investigating the underlying process of aging to provide proactive healthcare.
Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, generating most of the energy needed for biochemical reactions. As we age, mitochondria become less efficient, producing less energy to carry out the function of a healthy cell.
A genome is a complete set of DNA, containing genetic instructions inside our cells. Genomic damage occurs naturally throughout life but as we age, our ability to repair DNA also decreases, leading to genomic instability.
Loss of proteostasis
Proteostasis is the ability to regulate functional proteins across the body. As we age, impaired proteostasis is natural, as proteins accumulate and fold improperly. This is associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, and cataracts. Chaperone proteins can assist with the proper folding of healthy proteins to maintain and enhance cellular health.
Senescent cells accumulate as we age through cellular damage or the process of cellular division, releasing inflammatory cytokines that negatively impact other cells. Cellular senescence has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and kidney disease.
Altered intercellular communication
Cells use chemical signaling to communicate their current state and regulate homeostasis. As we age, our chemical signals change, which may further accelerate aging.
Our nutrient-sensing network regulates our cell’s ability to turn food into energy, with insulin helping cells to take in glucose. Aging decreases our ability to utilize nutrients to their full capacity, which can also speed up other hallmarks of aging.
The epigenome regulates gene expression and other cellular functions, which can contribute to the development of several diseases. DNA methylation is one form of epigenetic alteration that occurs as we age.
Telomeres are caps at the end of our chromosomes that protect our DNA. As we age, naturally-occurring DNA damage causes our telomeres to shorten, leading to genomic instability.
Inflammation increases as we age, contributing to osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, and spinal disc degeneration. While some short term inflammation can assist with repair and recovery, chronic inflammation produces a state of constant repair signaling, further accelerating the aging process.
Autophagy is a cellular recycling process where damaged cellular organelles and unused proteins are broken down and recycled into new organelles and proteins. As we age, our body’s ability to recycle these cells declines, leading to impaired functionality.
The bacteria in our gut, also known as the microbiome, helps protect our overall health. Aging is associated with adverse changes in the gut microbiome that can contribute to disease states such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, and cancer.
Stem cell exhaustion
Stem cells help our body to repair and renew, particularly following injury. As we age, stem cells become exhausted, which combined with the other cellular effects of aging, drastically reduces our ability to repair and regenerate tissue.