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Human ageing: A cellular phenomenon or evolutionary determinant?

Bittles, A.H. (1986) Human ageing: A cellular phenomenon or evolutionary determinant? International Journal of Anthropology, 1 (4). pp. 289-295.

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During the course of the last twenty years scientific interest in the ageing process in man gradually has assumed a position of considerable importance. The situation has arisen largely because of the realization that, at least in industrialized countries, the elderly comprise an ever-increasing proportion of the population and diseases associated directly or indirectly with old age already account for a significant percentage of total health care expenditure. A particular problem to be faced in the investigation of human ageing lies in the selection of a suitable model. While various invertebrates and small mammals have been extensively utilized for this purpose, human diploid cells culturedin vitro offer many advantages, not least removal of the necessity for inter-specific extrapolations. Numerous cellular organelles and processes have been suggested as primary «targets» in ageing. Detailed investigations into a variety of such «targets» are described including cell membrane composition and structure, protein catabolism and integrity of the free aminoacid pool, and cellular energy flux. The data indicate a central role for mitochondrial senescence. The significance of the findings is discussed in terms of the role of ageing as an adaptive or non-adaptive process.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
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