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Cell Aging and Human Lifespan

Written by: Osayenmwen Omozusi


Aging is a process that impacts everyone. Lifespans can be determined by how individual cells age over time. Diseases such as dementia, diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis are triggered by aging (Ullah & Sun 2018), which can have destructive consequences on human society and burden the entire health care system and economy. Knowing the reason and the way cells age will increase the lifespan of a population, thus achieving a healthy life to be lived. Fortunately, researchers are finding ways to prevent these diseases and extend human lifespans.


Increasing Lifespan Through Stem Cells

One way researchers have thought about increasing lifespan is through stem cells, the foundation of regenerative science. Stem cells are already used to replace damaged tissues in many mammals. They could also be an alternate way for the living organism to change damaged tissue or worn-out cells working tissue or cells (Ullah & Sun 2018). According to a theory, stem cells from the bone marrow go into tissue and become cells of that tissue. Aging is a balance between entropy and rebuilding. If entropy, the aging or slow breaking down of tissue, is larger than the rebuilding abilities of stem cells, it will lead to aging (Ullah & Sun 2018).


How Cells Age

Scientists at the University of California San Diego found that cells with the same genetic material can age in extremely different ways. About half of cells age when over time the nucleolus becomes unstable. This is the region of nuclear DNA where key components of protein-producing “factories” are synthesized. The other half age when the mitochondria stop working, which affects how energy is produced in the cell (University of California – San Diego 2020).

Having a model will allow researchers to find a way to manipulate and optimize the aging process. Nan Hao, the senior author of the study, said, “Our study raises the possibility of rationally designing gene or chemical-based therapies to reprogram how human cells age, with a goal of effectively delaying human aging and extending human healthspan” (University of California – San Diego 2020).



Even as aging can cause detrimental effects, the process does not have to be. Researchers are discovering the causes of cell aging and how that affects people. Research has shown that stem cells can prolong lifespan. With this, they can find ways to extend life expectancy while making sure a healthy life is lived. The number of years lived can be increased so that people can live and work fuller, healthier lives longer than ever before.



References and Sources

Ullah, M., & Sun, Z. (2018, January 10). Stem cells and anti-aging genes: double-edged sword—do the same job of life extension. Stem Cell Research & Therapy.

University of California – San Diego. (2020, July 16). Two paths of aging: New insights on promoting healthspan: Master aging circuit identified. ScienceDaily.


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