When I hear the phrase "DNA Damage" I imagine completely random changes in the DNA of a person's cells. If this is the case, then it seems like every person would age differently depending on what happens to their DNA. But that is not what we see. In general people age in very similar, predicable ways almost as though it was programmed into the system.

Is it just that most random DNA changes result in cell death and that most of aging is just having fewer healthy cells in any given tissue?

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Mark. Welcome to Bio.SE. DNA damage is one aspect of ageing. Ageing was definitely not programmed into the system, and in fact is probably entirely plastic. See here for more about ageing: youtube.com/watch?v=-hCkVHioBVA Crucially, we have not lived longer than about 30 years old during evolutionary timescales. I'd also challenge the idea that we all age similarly. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Feb 22 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ It's worth pointing out that processes causing DNA damage are not necessarily random. Telomere shortening in somatic cells, for example, seems to be controlled mostly by deterministic factors. Likewise, somatic cell mutations, which probably occur stochastically (not necessarily at random), can affect fitness at the cellular level, and therefor persist or accumulate in predictable ways that affect cell proliferation and/or survival. $\endgroup$
    – MikeyC
    Feb 22 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ People do age differently. Consider perhaps the most obvious signs, like grey hair or baldness. Some peope go grey (and men start to lose hair) in their 40s or so. Others can hit their 70s with a full head of hair that has only a few streaks of grey. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Feb 22 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ biology.stackexchange.com/questions/98428/… I think as is said there ageing has to do with dna changing structure more than code. But also sunburn seems to leave same traces on people, for some reason. Great question though $\endgroup$
    – Minsky
    Feb 22 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ Nit that clear to me tbh @jamesqf. There are epigenomic chanfes, mutations due to methylation ,UV, ROS, telomere shortening, some energy troubles with the mitochondria too.. $\endgroup$
    – Minsky
    Feb 22 at 20:06

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