There is a standpoint according to which the suppression of the ability of cells in a multicellular organism to proliferate, taking place during aging, as well as the corresponding decline in the regenerative capacities of tissues and organs, is caused by the specialized mechanisms having emerged in the evolution that decrease the risk of malignant transformation and, thereby, provide for protection against cancer. At the same time, various macromolecular defects start to accumulate in senescent cells of the body, which, on the contrary, elevate the probability for malignant transformation of these cells. Thus, according to the mentioned concept, the restriction of cell proliferation is a double-edged sword, which, on the one hand, decreases the probability for malignant tumor development in young age and, on the other hand, limits the lifespan due to accumulation of “spoiled” cells in old age. However, it remains unclear why normal human cells placed under in vitro conditions and thus having no mentioned “anticancer” barriers, which function at the body level only, NEVER undergo spontaneous malignant transformation. In addition, it is unclear how the freshwater hydra escapes both aging and cancer, as it under certain conditions contains no postmitotic and senescent cells at all and under these conditions (excluding the need for sexual reproduction) can live almost indefinitely, possessing a tremendous regenerative potential (a new organism can emerge from even 1/100 part of the old one). Presumably, the restriction of cell proliferation in an aging multicellular organism is not the result of a certain special program. Apparently, there is no program of aging at all, the aging being a “byproduct” of the program of development, whose implementation in higher organisms necessarily requires emergence of cell populations with a very low and even zero proliferative activity, which actually determines the limited ability of the corresponding organs and tissues to regenerate. On the other hand, the populations of highly differentiated cells incapable or poorly capable of reproduction (e.g., neurons, cardiomyocytes, and hepatocytes) are the particular factor that determines the normal functioning of higher animals and humans. Even regeneration of such organs with the help of stem cells may interfere with the necessary links in elaborate systems. The reductionism (“everything is determined by adverse changes in individual cells”), which has recently become widespread in experimental gerontological research, has brought about several model systems for studying the aging mechanisms in isolated cells (Hayflick phenomenon, stationary phase aging model, cellular kinetic model for testing of geroprotectors and geropromoters, etc.). However, it currently seems that data obtained using such models are inappropriate for an automatic extrapolation to the situation in the whole body. Presumably, impairments in regulatory processes functioning at the neurohumoral level are the major players in the mechanisms underlying aging of multicellular organisms rather than a mere accumulation of macromolecular damage in individual cells. It cannot be excluded that a disturbance of such regulation is the particular reason for the abnormal INCREASE in proliferation intensity of some cell populations that are frequently observed in old age and that lead to senile acromegaly and development of numerous benign tumors. It looks like the quality of CONTROL over cells, organs, and tissues becomes poorer with age rather than the quality of the cells themselves, which leads to an increase in the death rate.
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 27, 2013
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