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Genes That Accelerate Aging On Disturbance of the Biological Clock Identified

Genes That Accelerate Aging On Disturbance of the Biological Clock Identified

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  • Scientists found a cluster of genes that are activated during stress
  • When the body’s circadian rhythm is affected, these genes are activated and accelerate the signs for aging
  • Prolonged activation of these genes lead to the risk of cancer

A research team from Oregon State University has identified a set of genes that are activated during later stages in life or when they are required to aid in the protection of critical functions, these genes are found to be associated with the biological clock or the circadian rhythm of the body. The study was published in the journal Nature communications and provided an insight into a unique stress response mechanism.

The findings of the study offer clues to accelerated aging that occur when the biological clock is affected. These genes can also be used to identify stress associated with environment, age or disease.


Genes That Accelerate Aging On Disturbance of the Biological Clock Identified

Late-life Cyclers

Dr. Rachael Kuintzle, who is the lead author of the study named the group of genes that showed a rhythmic activity at a later stage in life as 'late-life cyclers'. There are 25 such genes which were found to rhythm late in life, but whose functions were not understood earlier.

"These genes become active and are found to respond to stresses associated with stresses like molecular aging, oxidative stress, aging and during certain diseases," according to Dr. Jadwiga Giebultowicz, who is a co-author of the study and a well-known expert on the functions of the biological clock.

Late Life Cycler Genes and Aging

The process of aging results in memory loss, neural degeneration and other functional disabilities that are accentuated when the biological clock is disrupted. These genes play a natural response to aging and aid in supporting the nervous system.

The late life cycler genes increase their rhythmic expression in times of stress, which is indicative of the significance of circadian rhythms. The advancement in age increases stress associated with the body and this is the time when the late life cycler genes become increasingly active. These genes are found to prevent the improper folding of proteins or could help proteins refold, which prevents the aggregation of proteins linked with age associated neuro-degeneration.

Missing Link

Identification of these genes provides the missing link to the most commonly asked question as to how changes in the circadian rhythm increases the symptoms of aging. Apart from aging, a large amount of stress can also activate these genes into action. This was highlighted when oxidative stress in fruit flies were artificially created by the research team, as the late life cycle genes were activated rhythmically. Some of the genes under study were also found to be activated in cancer, indicating that they were important for lowering stress levels but could be potentially harmful if they remained active for a very long time.

The circadian rhythm that allows synchronization based on light or dark cycle in 24-hours is very important and the genes involved in controlling that have been conserved over so many years of evolution from fruit flies to humans. These genes are found in peripheral organs as well as in the nervous system. These genes influence
  • Feeding pattern
  • Sleeping behavior
  • DNA repair
  • Effectiveness to medication
  • Reaction to stress
When the circadian rhythms are affected routinely with changes in the sleep pattern, such people are found to be prone to cancer or a shorter lifespan.

Circadian Rhythm

Most people tend to feel energized at certain times during the day and some drowsy. This is due to the circadian rhythm which is a 24-hour internal clock that moves between being sleepy and being alert at specific times of the day. The circadian rhythm is also known as the sleep cycle or wake cycle.

Most adults find a low point in their energy levels between 2:00 to 4:00 a.m/p.m, when they are usually fast asleep or when they are looking forward to a nap post lunch. However, these time estimates could vary between individuals, if you are not used to sleeping post lunch or if you are a morning person.

The light or dark cycle is synchronized in a 24-hour period.When it is dark, the brain sends signals to the body to release melatonin which makes the person tired. This is however disrupted in call center and night shift workers who work during the night and are awake during the day. The normal sleep pattern of these individuals is affected and is also the reason why they find it very hard to stay awake during the night and are unable to sleep well during the day.

The disruption in the sleep pattern of these night workers is not only disrupted but also results in poor attention span. The current study that has identified the activation of specific genes during times of stress is an indication that prolonged period of stress could result in long term activation of these genes, increasing signs of aging and leads to the risk of cancer. This study brings to the focus the need to maintain the right sleep work pattern that matches the body's biological clock.

References :
  1. What is Circadian Rhythm? - (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/what-circadian-rhythm)

Source: Medindia

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