Pollutant exposure was found to affect two hallmarks of aging in people namely mitochondrial DNA content and telomere length, reported study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
But can accelerated aging be detected at the cellular level in healthy people exposed to pollutants? Now, researchers in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology report that although pollutant exposure can affect two hallmarks of aging in people (mitochondrial DNA content and telomere length), the results are not so clear-cut.
Some environmental pollutants cause mitochondria -- the cell's powerhouses -- to release more reactive oxygen species, which can damage the DNA ŽŽin these organelles and lead to inflammation. Telomeres, the DNA-protein caps on the ends of chromosomes that allow them to continue dividing, are also sensitive to environmental stress. Shorter telomeres are a hallmark of aging, whereas abnormally long telomeres are often seen in cancer cells. Michelle Plusquin of Hasselt University and colleagues wondered if individual pollutants, or combinations of them, could affect mitochondrial DNA content or telomere length in people.
But some pollutants were associated with either higher mitochondrial DNA content or longer telomeres. These findings suggest that pollutants could impact molecular hallmarks of aging, though more research is needed to determine the mechanism and biological effects, the researchers say.