Center  for  Research  &  Education on Aging  (CREA)
University of California, Berkeley



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  Aging Theories


Molecular Theories of Aging


Codon restriction

Fidelity and/or accuracy of mRNA message translation is impaired with aging due to cell inability to decode the triple codons (bases) in mRNA molecules

Somatic mutation

Type of stochastic theory of aging that assumes that an accumulation of environmental insults eventually reaches a level incompatible with life, primarily because of genetic damage.

Error catastrophe

Errors in information transfer due to alterations in RNA polymerase and tRNA synthetase may increase with age resulting in increased production of abnormal proteins.

Gene regulation

Aging is caused by changes in the expression of genes regulating both development and aging.


Gradual accumulation of random molecular damage impairs regulation of gene expression.



Cellular Theories of Aging



Intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence life span

Free radical accumulation

Oxidative metabolism produces free radicals which are highly reactive and thus damages DNA and/or proteins and thus degrades the system structure and function.


Process of systematically dismantling key cellular components as the outcome of a programmed intracellular cascade of genetically determined steps.



System Theories of Aging



An old theory that assumes that there is a certain number of calories or heart beats allotted to an individuals and the faster these are used the shorter the life.


Alterations in either the number or the sensitivity of various neuroendocrine receptors gives rise to homeostatic or homeodynamcis changes that results in senescence.


Immune system reduces its defenses against antigens and thus results in an increasing incidence of infections and autoimmune diseases.



Evolutionary Theories of Aging


Antagonistic pleiotropy

Alleles that have beneficial effects on fitness at young ages can also have deleterious effects on fitness later in life.

Mutation accumulation

The force of natural selection declines at older ages to a point where it has little impact on recurrent deleterious mutations with effects confined to late life.

Disposable soma

Preferential allocation of energy resources for reproduction to the detriment of maintenance and survival of somatic cells.