One Cause of Aging: Mitochondrial Mutation

Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden have found a direct connection between the mutation of mitochondrial DNA in animal cells and the process of aging. Mitochondria, the tiny engines of cells, produce oxidants that have been implicated in cell damage over time, and their DNA may bear the brunt of the oxidant assault. The mitochondrial DNA of mice was modified to accelerate mutations by three to five times normal mutation rates. These mice developed age-related diseases earlier and lived only a third as long as normal mice.

As is typical with announcements of this sort, the researchers are staying clear of immortality promises, but they do suggest interventions might be developed that could treat many of the diseases of normal aging.

The research was led by Nils-Goran Larsson, a genetics professor, and was published this week in the scientific journal “Nature“.