Ageing and its related pathologies

Ageing is not a single phenotype, but a series of complex processes that together make up the whole. These can be generalized as a series of maintenance mechanisms required for ‘normal’ functioning that gradually acquire damage over a lifetime and eventually fail to keep functioning. A lot of useful work has been carried out in model organisms (such as C. elegans and rodents), but if interventions that promote healthy human ageing are to be found the focus of research must be turned towards observational studies in humans.

Using data from the InCHIANTI population study of human ageing, differential gene expression patterns associated with ageing and its pathologies is being investigated. Using individual phenotype information such as cognitive performance, frailty, various metabolic and anatomic traits and genome-wide expression data, differences in gene expression profiles between individuals with different characteristics, adjusted for potential confounding factors, can be statistically assessed. In doing so, it is hoped that underlying cellular mechanism linked to age-related diseases and phenotypes will be revealed.