, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 45-57

Age-associated decreases in human DNA repair capacity: Implications for the skin

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Multiple pathways are involved in accurate synthesis and distribution of DNA during replication, repair and maintenance of genomic integrity. An increased error rate, abovethe spontaneous mutation baseline, has been implicated in carcinogenesis and aging. Moreover, cytogenetic abnormalities are increased in Down’s, Edwards’, Patau’s, and Klinefelter’s syndromes with increasing maternal age, and in Marfan’s and Apert’s syndromes with paternal age. In response to DNA damage, multiple overlapping systems of DNA repair have evolved, preferentially repairing the transcribed strand within transcriptionally-active regions of the genome. These include direct reversal of dimers and specific adducts and pathways for base excision, nucleotide excision, and mismatch repair. A consensus has emerged that some DNA repair capacities decline with organism age, contradictory reports notwithstanding. As is the case for inborn defects in humans, knockout mice lacking components of nucleotide excision repair or DNA-damage checkpoint arrest have increased frequencies of skin and internal cancers, whereas mice overexpressing DNA repair genes have fewer spontaneous cancers. Oxidative stress and resultant free radicals can damage genomic and mitochondrial DNA; damage increases with age but decreases with caloric restriction. We review recent studies of long-lived C. elegans mutants which appear to involve metabolic attenuation, the role of telomere shortening and telomerase in cellular senescence, and the genetic bases of progeroid syndromes in humans. Finally, we discuss roles of extrinsic and intrinsic factors in skin aging, and their association with DNA damage, emphasizing preventive and protective measures and prospects for intervention by modulating DNA repair pathways in the skin.