Epigenomics and the regulation of aging

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Abstract

It is tempting to assume that a gradual accumulation of damage ‘causes’ an organism to age, but other biological processes present during the lifespan, whether ‘programmed’ or ‘hijacked’, could control the type and speed of aging. Theories of aging have classically focused on changes at the genomic level; however, individuals with similar genetic backgrounds can age very differently. Epigenetic modifications include DNA methylation, histone modifications and ncRNA. Environmental cues may be ‘remembered’ during lifespan through changes to the epigenome that affect the rate of aging. Changes to the epigenomic landscape are now known to associate with aging, but so far causal links to longevity are only beginning to be revealed. Nevertheless, it is becoming apparent that there is significant reciprocal regulation occurring between the epigenomic levels. Future work utilizing new technologies and techniques should build a clearer picture of the link between epigenomic changes and aging.

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