From a public health perspective, cigarette smoke is likely the most important gerontogen, Sharpless said.
UV radiation from the sun makes us older too, and Sharpless and his colleagues recently showed that chemotherapy treatment is also a strong gerontogen. With the aid of a mouse model that they developed, his team is prepared to study these gerontogens and others in much greater detail.
Norman Sharpless from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said the rate of physiologic, or molecular, aging differs between individuals in part because of exposure to 'gerontogens', i.e., environmental factors that affect aging.
Sharpless said they believe just as an understanding of carcinogens has informed cancer biology, so will an understanding of gerontogens benefit the study of aging and by identifying and avoiding gerontogens, they will be able to influence aging and life expectancy at a public health level.
By providing a visual indication of the activation cellular senescence, the mice will allow researchers to test substances and exposures that promote cellular aging ("gerontogen
testing") in the same way that other mouse models currently allow toxicologists to identify cancer-causing substances ("carcinogen testing").
A review published online in Trends in Molecular Medicine discusses the dangers associated with gerontogens: environmental factors that promote physiologic (as opposed to chronologic) aging.
Potential gerontogens include benzene, arsenic, ultraviolet light, ionizing radiation, chemotherapy, psychological stress, and cigarette smoke.
Sharpless and colleagues predict the development of blood tests to evaluate a number of molecular age biomarkers in order to understand individual differences in the rate of aging and to assess the age-promoting effect of gerontogens.
ISLAMABAD -- Just as exposure to carcinogens increases a person's risk for cancer, experts now believe in a new research that class of environmental toxins -known as gerontogens - may put people at an increased risk for accelerated aging.
Toxins present in cigarette smoke, UV rays and chemotherapy are all suspected gerontogens - capable of accelerating the rate at which a person ages, Fox News reports.
In their study, Sharpless and his colleagues developed a system that allowed them to expose mice to certain gerontogens and then measure the accumulation of senescence cells in their bodies.
"The rate of physiologic, or molecular, aging differs between individuals in part because of exposure to 'gerontogens
', i.e., environmental factors that affect aging," said Norman Sharpless from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.