, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 243–253 | Cite as

Running out of developmental program and selfish anti-aging: a new hypothesis explaining the aging process in primates

  • Andrej PodlutskyEmail author
Original Article


Of the three complementary theories of aging, two (mutation accumulation and antagonistic pleiotropy) were formulated over fifty years ago before the introduction of molecular biology, and the third (disposable soma) is over thirty years old. Despite rigorous research in the past fifty years, none have gained substantial experimental support. Here, I review these theories and introduce a new hypothesis called the selfish anti-aging (SAA). Aging happens because natural selection is indifferent to the organism’s life beyond reproduction; however, many mammalian species acquired anti-aging genes, which are providing instructions following completion of developmental, ontogeny, program. Such instructor-genes might be responsible for the elongation of lifespans of primates as a byproduct of parental care program. According to the SAA hypothesis, the animal models used in aging research could be divided into three groups, based on the degree of perceived presence and action of instructor-genes in each group. This new hypothesis is grounded in evolutionary theory and describes the unique primate aging process.


Aging Aging theories Evolution of aging Instructor-gene i-gene Minimum lifespan requirement Mutation accumulation Disposable soma Antagonistic pleiotropy Selfish anti-aging 



The author would like to thank friends and colleagues who contributed to the development of this article by discussions, criticism, or editing the manuscript: Zoltan Ungvari, Azhub Ibragimovich Gaziev, Nicola Raule, Alex and Sandra Pieke-Dahl, Steven Austad, Jeffrey Maycock, Robert Williams, Wendy Grus, and last but not least Natalia and Viktorija Podlutskaya. Special thanks to the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript, because of their critique, many useful suggestions have been addressed in the final version. However, only I can be blamed for any mistakes or deficiencies.


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© American Aging Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Natural Science and MathematicsUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

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