Telomere Length Changes During Development And In Vitro Culture

With the exception of stem cells, the replicative potential of somatic cells is limited due to the eventual onset of cellular senescence. It is widely thought that progressive shortening of telomeres during DNA replication contributes to the aging process, so that after a sufficient number of rounds of replication, the telomeres shorten below a critical point needed to maintain genomic integrity. Overexpression of telomerase can be associated with cellular immortalization and may contribute to cancer, although other events leading to uncapped, shortened telomeres are also associated with cancer (Cui et al., 2003; Wai, 2004). During normal development, telomerase activity may decline with age. Shorter lived species display a rapid loss of telomerase activity during development, whereas longer lived species delay this decrease in telomerase activity (Haussman et al., 2004). Increased telomere length in Caenorhabditis elegans correlates with increased life span (Joeng et al., 2004). Oxidative DNA damage from reactive oxygen species, irradiation, and various forms of stress are believed to shorten telomeres prematurely, leading to accelerated aging (Kawanishi et al., 2004; Liu et al., 2002).

How to Stay Young

How to Stay Young

For centuries, ever since the legendary Ponce de Leon went searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth, people have been looking for ways to slow down the aging process. Medical science has made great strides in keeping people alive longer by preventing and curing disease, and helping people to live healthier lives. Average life expectancy keeps increasing, and most of us can look forward to the chance to live much longer lives than our ancestors.

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