It used to be thought that the increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes and the decrease in exercise capacity that comes from aging was just the consequence of wear and tear on our bodies. It is seen that the numbers of mitochondria in muscles decreases with age. Mitochondria, remember, are the power sourcers of our cells. Using mice and monkeys of different ages these investigators at the National Institutes of Health have shown that there is a genetic program that is activated by key proteins that contributes to the metabolic and physical decline of old age. The central player they have found is called DNA protein kinase (DNA-PK). It does some good things like repair breaks in the DNA that happen over time and so it is indispensable for life but it gets increased in old age by other mechanisms and causes loss of mitochondria and inflammation. Calorie restriction, exercise and some inhibiting drugs can favorably protect against the DNA-PK programs that lead to decreased numbers of muscle cell mitochondria and the physical fitness declines of old age.
“Weight gain and lack of exercise are often attributed to poor lifestyle choices. One’s lifestyle is ultimately an individual’s choice, but we must acknowledge that strong underlying forces that cause metabolic and physical decline make healthy lifestyle goals difficult to attain with aging. Understanding the molecular basis of these forces will help us address more effectively the public health challenges brought on by obesity, lack of exercise, and aging.”
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
More evidence in the war on old age was published in this month’s issue of the journal Cell Metabolism. (1)
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org or phone-354-6605.