A new gene research has shed light on the molecular changes that occur in our bodies as we age. In the University of Exeter research, researchers examined expression of genes in blood samples from 15,000 people across the world.
They found 1,450 genes that are linked to aging and also uncovered a link between these genes and factors such as diet, smoking and exercise. Whilst the underlying causes of human aging are largely unknown, growing old increases the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke -- three of the leading causes of death.
The research team specifically looked for changes in gene expression, a process in which the information contained in genes is 'expressed' by reading the DNA sequence and creating RNA, and subsequently proteins.
By looking in blood, the researchers aimed to find easy to measure markers of human aging. This technique allowed them to develop a new method to predict people's 'biological age' and show that people with a biological age older than their actual age were more likely to have conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Researcher Luke Pilling said that this study has discovered many genes that change in their patterns of expression with age. This study has not only given insights into aging mechanisms -- such as mitochondrial function -- but these techniques have potential use in prediction and treatment. The research is published online in Nature Communications