There are many causes of ageing, a process that is determined by an accumulation of various kinds of cell damage that impair the function of bodily organs. Of particular importance to ageing, however, seems to be the damage that occurs in the cell’s power plant – the mitochondrion.
“The mitochondrion contains its own DNA, the so-called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA, which changes more than the DNA in the nucleus, and this has a significant impact on the ageing process,” says Nils-Göran Larsson, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, also a professor in Mitochondrial Genetics at Karolinska Institutet (KI) and leader of the current study alongside Professor Lars Olson (KI). “Many mutations in the mitochondria gradually disable the cell’s energy production.”
Now, however, the researchers have shown that the ageing process is attributable not only to the accumulation of mtDNA damage during a person’s lifetime, but also to their maternally inherited mtDNA.
“Surprisingly, we also show that our mother’s mitochondrial DNA seems to influence our own ageing,” says Professor Larsson. “If we inherit mtDNA with mutations from our mother, we age more quickly.”
Normal and damaged DNA is passed down from generation to generation. However, the question of whether it is possible to affect the degree of mtDNA damage through, for example, lifestyle intervention
is yet to be investigated. All that the researchers know now is that mild mtDNA damage is transferred from the mother and contributes to the ageing process.
They also show in the current study that low levels of mutated mtDNA have developmental effects and may cause deformities of the brain when they are accompanied by large amounts of mtDNA mutations that occur over the lifetime.
“Our findings can shed more light on the ageing process and prove that the mitochondria play a key part in ageing. They also show that it’s important to reduce the number of mutations,” says Professor Larsson.
The data published in the paper come from experiments on mice. The researchers now intend to continue their work on mice, and on fruit flies, to investigate whether reducing the number of mutations can extend their lifespan.Original publication:
Nature, Epub ahead of print: Aug 21, 2013, DOI: 10.1038/nature12474Contact:
Sabine Dzuck | Max-Planck-Institut
Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Awards Funding