What is your biological age?
How does aging occur and how fast do we age? Many times, we mistakenly believe that, in order to answer these questions, it is enough to think about our chronological age, which is easily determined. It is the age defined by the calendar. However, scientists claim that we have two ages. The second is our biological age, which arises based on the functions of our body, our overall state of health and the well-being indicators of our body. This practically means that a 60 year old person may be the same age as a 40 year old person, who does not follow a healthy lifestyle.
Without a doubt, everyone wants to be younger biologically than chronologically, something we have the ability to achieve, as biological age is not defined by time, but it is up to us to reverse it. But what determines this age? The answer lies in telomeres. A concept not so familiar to us. However, as genomic research has evolved, we have begun to expand our knowledge of telomeres and the role they play in our biological age.
Telomeres are those parts at the end of our chromosomes and are responsible for protecting our DNA, our genetic code, from decay. We can describe DNA as a hard disk, in which is stored the software that controls all the functions that are performed in our body. Telomeres are able to maintain the integrity of our DNA and that is exactly where the key role they play in aging mechanisms lies.
The mechanism of aging
All cells in an organism enclose a specific amount of genetic information, which is stored in DNA. DNA in turn is organized in the cell nucleus in the form of chromosomes. Human cells, with the exception of gametes, contain 23 pairs of chromosomes. Our cells divide to increase the size of the body or to replenish damaged cells. With each cell division, however, a portion of the telomeres does not replicate, leading to their gradual shrinkage.
Over time, in fact, our telomeres become shorter. During our lifetime, as cell division takes place, the length of telomeres decreases more and more, resulting in the loss of the ability of cells to proliferate. In this way, they undergo apoptosis, that is, they die. This is the basic mechanism that brings about aging in man.
This cellular aging is expressed with various symptoms. Our hair becomes white, the loss of skin elasticity becomes more obvious and the immune system weakens. Furthermore, cellular aging occurs in the form of chronic diseases.
Correlation of Telomeres with the occurrence of Chronic diseases
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that telomere length was directly related to the risk of developing cancer.
According to other studies, people with reduced telomere length had higher mortality rates, which was caused due to the development of various diseases. Telomere shrinkage has been linked to the early onset of many age-related health problems. Most chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis and many other chronic diseases are associated with reduced telomere length.
It is curious that the length of telomeres is not constant, but varies between organisms, organs, cell types and even between chromosomes. Telomeres shrink at an accelerated rate, after the onset of a disease. Various chronic inflammatory diseases, which increase the production of inflammatory cytokines and accelerate cell proliferation, can make our chromosomes unstable. This results in the formation of cells that become more and more prone to premature aging.
Both telomere generation and maintenance are accomplished through the function of an enzyme which is known as telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme that is able to lengthen telomeres by inhibiting their contraction. In this way, it can help ensure the integrity of telomeres and therefore provide our body with anti-aging benefits. In addition, activation of the telomerase enzyme may contribute to the stabilization and proper function of the immune system.
In recent years it has been argued that telomeres and telomerase are the leading cause of various chronic diseases and various studies have been carried out, in order to find the ways and methods of their regulation, with the aim of the treatment of chronic diseases. Whether this scientific knowledge will eventually lead to the formulation of specific therapeutic methods for the treatment of various diseases is something that will be judged by time and continuous research. However, there are many who claim that, by finding a specific way to regulate the action of telomerase, they will be able in the future to cure chronic diseases that afflict individuals worldwide and to ensure the anti-aging of our cells.
Modern Medical Reality
Modern Medical Reality is at the heart of anti-aging and rejuvenation, it investigates the causes of any deviations of our body and it focuses on improving the health and increasing the quality of life of patients, using the most advanced treatments and protocols. It claims that restoring the proper function of our body and maintaining the length of telomeres are the guarantees for the reversal of cellular aging and for achieving a better quality of life.
Factors such as the restoration of hormonal balance, reduced levels of inflammation, adequate sleep, regular physical exercise, the adoption of a diet rich in valuable nutrients, smoking cessation, intake of antioxidants through our diet, stress management, avoiding exposure to toxic agents and radiation are the key to maintaining telomere length and consequently to anti-aging and ensuring our health.
Nowadays, specialized molecular and genetic tests are incorporated in clinical practice, which analyze the biochemistry of the cell, our hormonal system and a number of parameters of the vital functions which are performed in our body. In particular, TeloScan is a genetic test that measures the length of telomeres on chromosomes. The test results in Mean Telomere Length (MMT), Relative Telomere Length (T / S) as well as actual biological or cellular age, based on telomere length.
The diagnostic findings resulting from these specialized tests are the guarantees for the formulation of the appropriate individualized treatment protocols, which address the problem in a targeted way. Individualized medical treatments are administered, which are parameterized based on the set of biochemical indicators, and the course of the individual’s health is examined on a monthly basis.
Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive, Anti-ageing and Restorative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).
- Oeseburg H, de Boer RA, van Gilst WH, van der Harst P. Telomere biology in healthy aging and disease. Pflugers Arch. 2010;459:259–268.
- Hohensinner PJ, Goronzy JJ, Weyand CM. Telomere dysfunction, autoimmunity and aging. Aging Dis. 2011;2:524–537.
- Jamanetwork /journals/186171, Telomere Length and Risk of Incident Cancer and Cancer Mortality.
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3340492/, Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging.
- Dei Cas A, Spigoni V, Franzini L, Preti M, Ardigo D, Derlindati E, Metra M, Monti LD, Dell’Era P, Gnudi L, Zavaroni I. Lower endothelial progenitor cell number, family history of cardiovascular disease and reduced HDL-cholesterol levels are associated with shorter leukocyte telomere length in healthy young adults. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013;23:272–278.
- latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2009-mar-02-he-telomeres2-story, Tales our telomeres tell
- Effros RB. Telomerase induction in T cells: a cure for aging and disease? Exp. Gerontol. 2007;42:416-20.
- Li Y, Zhi W, Wareski P, Weng NP. IL-15 activates telomerase and minimizes telomere loss and may preserve the replicative life span of memory CD8+ T cells in vitro. J. Immunol. 2005;174:4019-24.
- Minamino T, Komuro I. Role of telomeres in vascular senescence. Front Biosci. 2008;13:2971-9.
- Serrano AL, Andrés V. Telomeres and cardiovascular disease: does size matter? Circ. Res. 2004 Mar 19;94:575-84
- Savage SA, Alter BP. The role of telomere biology in bone marrow failure and other disorders. Mech. Ageing Dev. 2008;129:35-47.
- Bearss DJ, Hurley LH, Von Hoff DD. Telomere maintenance mechanisms as a target for drug development. Oncogene. 2000;19:6632-41.
- Melk A, Halloran PF. Cell senescence and its implications for nephrology. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 2001;12:385- 93.
- Chkhotua A, Shohat M, Tobar A, Magal N, Kaganovski E, Shapira Z et al. Replicative senescence in organ transplantation-mechanisms and significance. Transpl. Immunol. 2002;9:165-71.