Energetics and Ageing

mbu!barani at vigyan.ernet.in mbu!barani at vigyan.ernet.in
Tue Jun 15 23:47:08 EST 1993

On the question of quantification of the ageing process 
(continuing from Sydney Shall's Million Dollar Question 
..What is Ageing..)

An idea can be borrowed from ecology. The ecological systems 
are considered from a point of view of energy flow through 
the system and ecological materials are also classified based 
on their calorific value.

In a similar way, it is possible to quantify ageing
depending on a cell's ability to perform work
or convert chemical potential energy into heat. The rate
of energy transfer in a cell is directly proportional to
its ability to function and hence its age. 

This definition leads to a possibility that different 
parts of a living system age at different rates. 

Wild Thought! : Is it possible that Werner's syndrome 
is a result of body cells ageing at a much faster rate 
than the brain cells and on the other hand, the Alzheimer's 
disease is one in which the brain cells decay much faster 
than the body cells ?

The rate of energy transfer in a cell can be worked out
more rigorously and given a mathematical basis. There is
a distant link to mtDNA theory of ageing too!

Molecular Biophysics Unit
Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore 560 012 India.

barani at mbu.iisc.ernet.in

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