The cause of premature aging can be found in our DNA. Researchers have now found the gene that makes some perceived as older than they actually are.
NETHERLANDS – Wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and a lax facial structure. There are no visible effects of the biological processes associated with the natural aging process – and something we all experience sooner or later.
But what is it that makes some of us notice of this visible aging earlier than others?
Particular gene variant
Now a team of researchers in the Netherlands found a possible explanation. In a comprehensive study, they investigated whether people who are perceived as older than they are have something in common in their DNA.
It turned out that these people carried a particular variant of a gene called MC1R. Individuals with specific variations of this gene, on average, look two years older than they actually are the study shows. The work has been published in Current Biology.
MC1R gene has been shown to play an important role when it comes to inflammation and DNA repair. Something Nancy Pedersen, a professor of genetic epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute, believes may be of importance for its role in premature aging. Because this gene is involved in these processes, it seems logical that it also can affect our appearance.
Not the whole explanation
But what we must remember is that it’s just a connection they have found. It is not the whole explanation of premature aging, not the whole mechanism, says Professor Pedersen.
She believes that it is interesting to find out if it is so that those who have this gene variant can influence the gene will be expressed, or if through a healthy lifestyle one can make the effects negligible.
It could be that excessive sunlight or unhealthy habits can make it active. In this case, it’s something that one is able to control.
The outside says a lot about our health
Previous studies have shown that a person’s physical aging is influenced by a combination of about half and half legacy environment.
It has also been shown that the speed of the visible aging process says a lot about a person’s health and mortality, which can be a sign of the age we show up on the outside and also may be linked to how we feel on the inside.
Nancy Pedersen points to a Danish twin study of aging, where they had external age assessments. It turned out that the twin who looked older, often had poorer health and also died a little earlier. So there is some connection between our outside and inside.