Telomeres and the Rate of Living: Linking Biological Clocks of Senescence

Author: James F Gillooly, Emily S Khazan
Conference/Journal: Ecol Evol Physiol
Date published: 2024 May-Jun
Other: Volume ID: 97 , Issue ID: 3 , Pages: 157-163 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1086/730588. , Word Count: 182

AbstractTwo prominent theories of aging, one based on telomere dynamics and the other on mass-specific energy flux, propose biological time clocks of senescence. The relationship between these two theories, and the biological clocks proposed by each, remains unclear. Here, we examine the relationships between telomere shortening rate, mass-specific metabolic rate, and lifespan among vertebrates (mammals, birds, fishes). Results show that telomere shortening rate increases linearly with mass-specific metabolic rate and decreases nonlinearly with increasing body mass in the same way as mass-specific metabolic rate. Results also show that both telomere shortening rate and mass-specific metabolic rate are similarly related to lifespan and that both strongly predict differences in lifespan, although the slopes of the relationships are less than linear. On average, then, telomeres shorten a fixed amount per unit of mass-specific energy flux. So the mitotic clock of telomere shortening and the energetics-based clock described by metabolic rate can be viewed as alternative measures of the same biological clock. These two processes may be linked, we speculate, through the process of cell division.

Keywords: aging; energetics; longevity; scaling; telomere dynamics.

PMID: 38875139 DOI: 10.1086/730588