CEXS-UPF and IBE (CSIC-UPF): The fundamental causes of human ageing explained

CEXS-UPF and IBE (CSIC-UPF): The fundamental causes of human ageing explained

News from CEXS-UPF and IBE

A team led by scientists at the CEXS and the IBE (CSIC-UPF), have shown which are the latest genetic causes of human ageing. The results are published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. To date, efforts to understand the evolutionary causes of ageing had been limited to experimental models but today, the amount of data available concerning the relationship between genotype and phenotype represents an unprecedented opportunity to conduct these tests in humans.

Arcadi Navarro, former ICREA research professor at UPF, has co-led the study that has examined the results of more than 3,000 studies with over 2,500 markers out of a total of 120 diseases. To start with, scientists have considered whether the markers for each disease have an effect on youth or old age. The distinction is important because if a mutation has harmful effects in old age, our genes will already have passed on to our offspring and natural selection cannot act. The results of this study show that the frequency and the effect of the mutations that cause diseases in old age are greater than those that cause disease in early age. 

The bioinformatic studies carried out by Juan Antonio Rodríguez, first author , have also shown that there are mutations that are beneficial to youth but are harmful later in old age. However, "as they are positive in the reproductive period they will be favoured by natural selection and passed on to the offspring, and so it will be difficult to remove them", explains Rodríguez.

More infromation:
CEXS-UPF website and IBE website

Reference work:
Juan Antonio Rodríguez, Urko M. Marigorta, David A. Hughes, Nino Spataro, Elena Bosch, Arcadi Navarro. Antagonistic pleiotropy and mutation accumulation influence human senescence and disease. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2017.