A mother's genes can affect the aging process in her children, according to a new study in mice as quoted in media reports Friday.
Researchers at Karolinska Institute, Sweden, found that mutations in mother mice resulted in age-related problems in their offspring.
They found that damage to mitochondrial DNA, that is passed down from mothers, leads to aging more than mutations in the cell's nucleus.
"If we inherit mDNA with mutations from our mother, we age more quickly," said lead study author, Professor Nils-Goran Larsson.
Normal and damaged DNA is passed down between generations. However, the question of whether it is possible to affect the degree of mDNA damage through lifestyle intervention is yet to be investigated.
All that the researchers know now is that mild DNA damage transferred from the mother contributes to the aging process.
"The study also shows that low levels of mutated mDNA can have developmental effects and cause deformities of the brain," said author Jaime Ross, Ph.D., at the Karolinska Institutet.
"Our findings can shed more light on the aging process and prove that the mitochondria play a key part in aging; they also show that it's important to reduce the number of mutations," said Larsson.
"These findings also suggest that therapeutic interventions that target mitochondrial function may influence the time course of aging," said Barry Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D., a co-author of the study from the Department of Neurosurgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
The data published come from experiments on mice. The researchers now intend to continue their work on mice, and on fruit flies, to investigate whether reducing the number of mutations can extend their lifespan.