José Luis Ricón on noise and/or programmed aging as root causes of aging
José Luis Ricón Fernández de la Puente frames the root cause of aging as a mix of something programmed plus noise:
You have to think about what are the ultimate root causes. And I think this is probably going to be just two things:
Noise. I think when cells replicate, maybe they don’t fully replicate perfectly, maybe the epigenome is not easy to maintain through life. So one needs to fix that.
And then second, you have this programmed component. Maybe your body doesn’t really want you to have a big thymus. Maybe it doesn’t really want you to take in zinc. Because lack of zinc may be more useful to tackle pathogens you have already seen but not so for newer ones. There are some papers and speculate why it might be, why it might not be.
To drive home the point that this programmed aging thing matters:
If you look at one of the reasons the small worm C. elegans die is because of their intestines. Their intestines are initially taking some fat from the body to feed and generate eggs — from which new worms will hatch.
But as they age and there are no more eggs to generate, this mechanism continues working, even though the worm is not eating as much nor moving as much. This mechanism continues acting in a way that the worm is eating itself, but because there are no eggs it just generates a lot of fat within itself.
So you have all these mechanisms that sound like they’re great when you’re young, but not so when you are older.