Genetic mutations that accumulate in the DNA of mitochondria—the power plants in cells—determine the lifespan of mice, confirming a cause of aging and suggesting ways to slow it down.
The findings, by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, reveal a fundamental biological mechanism underlying the aging process.
“It seems to be a universal phenomenon in mammals that you have this damage to mitochondrial DNA as you get older,” says Karolinska researcher Nils-Goran Larsson. “But I and many others thought this was just a secondary phenomenon. I think the importance of our paper is that we actually show these mutations can indeed cause several changes associated with aging.”