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When we hear the word “old age”, we quickly associate it with time. And of course, it is something that we cannot avoid no matter how hard we try. As time passes, our cells and molecules deteriorate. Which means that cognitive and motor functions decrease in their performance.
An investigation carried out mentions that molecular parasites are also behind old age. Molecular parasites are a DNA sequences that can be mobilized within a genome. They are found within all living organisms and are a source of mutation. Molecular parasites have co-evolved with their host genomes. But when they move, they drag part of that host DNA. This is why they are called molecular parasites.
The geneticist Barbara McClintock, in the year 1940, discovered that depending on where these are inserted on a chromosome, they can alter the expression of other genes. The director of the Center for Biology of Aging at Brown, John Sedivy Says that aging is a successive sequence of failures. Cancer, for example, is related to aging because at some point, we make a mistake, and this is evidenced at the cellular level. What leads to developing this disease.
As time passes, retrotransposable elements become more active in somatic tissues. The body uses cellular mechanisms to suppress its activity. Aging cells lose their efficiency and ability to control retrotransposon activity. People with Alzheimer’s, for example, have more neuronal damage. Molecular parasites take advantage of this to lodge in brain tissue and further aggravate symptoms. Cellular parasites not only affect or affect brain cells that are already damaged. But they also act like viruses.
Let’s assume a case of HIV. Molecular parasites use a retrotransposition method. In other words, they move from one side to another making a copy-paste that involves the RNA, in order to insert themselves into the genome and then allow the “host” cell to replicate it.
When we say that premature aging also depends on genetics, it is because these parasites live in the genome, including the germline. So eggs and sperm carry these genetic elements and pass them on to subsequent generations.Much research remains to be done on these parasites. Especially to know how far they can affect neural networks.