Mice that inherit mutations of mitochondrial DNA that is only passed on by their mothers, age more rapidly than those mice without DNA mutations. A new study, published in Nature has found the mutated mitochondrial DNA can fail to discover cell damage, resulting in faster aging.
The study is a follow-up to a 2004 study from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet that found that a protective enzyme, PolgA, eliminates mistakes in the genetic code of the mitochondrial DNA. If, however, this protective enzyme is not present, the mice experienced an accelerated aging process including the symptoms of aging, such as osteoporosis, kidney failure, congestive heart disease and more.
In the new study, researchers built upon these findings and manipulated the genes of mice so they would have mutations in their mitochondrial DNA, which accelerated aging even with the protective PolgA enzyme. The symptoms were even more dramatic without the PolgA enzyme.
Researcher Dr. Barry Hoffer, adjunct professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center, explained in an article, “There’s proof for the first time that something you’ve inherited from your mother can add to your pre-existing tendency for aging.” He adds that the mice “will become a platform to study ways to mitigate the pace of aging.”