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Biological aspects of human ageing 

Biological aspects of human ageing
Chapter:
Biological aspects of human ageing
Author(s):

Doug Gray

, Carole Proctor

, and Tom Kirkwood

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199644957.003.0001
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date: 25 November 2017

At the molecular and cellular levels human ageing is characterized by the accumulation of unrepaired random damage, and an accompanying loss of function. A major source of damage is oxidative stress caused by the generation of reactive oxygen species as a by-product of respiration. DNA and proteins are both susceptible to damage but whereas DNA damage repair systems exist, faulty proteins are generally removed by protein degradation systems. During ageing these systems become less efficient and the subsequent accumulation of damaged protein promotes protein aggregation, a process which is especially problematic in the ageing brain. Other aspects of ageing include genetic and epigenetic changes, mitochondrial dysfunction, telomere shortening, and cellular senescence, all subject to stochasticity. The complexity of the biology of ageing has led to an increase in the use of systems biology approaches whereby the use of mathematical modelling and bioinformatic tools complement the more traditional experimental approaches.

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