The biological basis of ageing: a brief guide

  • Stephen J. Louw Geriatric Unit, Medical School, University of Cape Town, Observatory

Abstract

Improved understanding of genetics and the protective mechanisms that have evolved at the cellular level now makes it possible to present a unified hypothesis of the biology of ageing. Previously, two opposing theories of ageing - "genetic-programming" theory and "wear-and-tear" theory - led to apparently divergent research thrusts. The recognition that both theories are aspects of the same phenomenon different levels of cell function - allows a deeper understanding of the contribution that each school has made to present notions of the biology of ageing.

References

Boerrigter, M.E.T.I., Wei, J. Y. & Viig, J. 1992. DNA repair and Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Gerontology, 47:8 177-84.
Casarret, G.W. 1959. Similarities and contrasts between radiation and time pathology. Advanced Gerontological Research, 1: 109-63.
Hayflick, L. 1974. The longevity of cultural human cells. American Journal of the Geriatric Society, 22:1-12.
Hayflick, L. & Moorhead, P.S. 1961. Experimental Cellular Research, 25:585-621.
Johnson, T.E. 1988. Mini review: genetic specification of life-span: processes, problems and potentials. Journal of Gerontology, 43:887-92.
Johnson, T.E. & Lithgow, G.J. 1992. The search for the genetic basis of ageing: the identification of gerontogenes in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. American Journal of the Geriatric Society, 40:936-45.
Kirkwood, T.B.L. 1977. Evolution and ageing. Nature, 270:301-304.
Martin, G., Sprague, C. & Epstein, C. 1970. Replicative life-span of cultivated human cells: effects of donors' age. Laboratory Investigations, 23:86-92.
Medawar, P.B. 1952. An unsolved problem in biology. London: H.K. Lewis.
Meier, D.E. 1984. The cell biology of ageing: ln: Cassel, C.K. & Walsh, J.R. (Eds) Geriatric medicine. Volume 1. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Morley, J.E. 1992. The resurgence of free radicals. (Editorial.) American Journal of the Geriatric Society, 12: 1285-87.
Rose, M.R. 1984. Laboratory evolution of postponed senescence in Drosophilia melanogaster. Evolution, 38:1004-10.
Rusting, R.L. 1992. Why do we age? Scientific American, 267:86-95.
Williams, G.C. 1957. Pleiotropy, natural selection and the evolution of senescence. Evolution, 11:389-411.
Published
1993-10-01