, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 848–853

Telomere shortening: The main mechanism of natural and radiation aging

Radiobiology and Radioecology


We present evidence that telomere shortening is the main or even sole mechanism of natural and radiation aging. All apparent contradictions, primarily, the absence of exact inverse correlation between residual telomere length and donor age, are explained using telomere theory. We try to explain in how telomere shortening might be the cause of aging and longevity limitation. We also show the inability of oxidative theory to explain a number of indisputable facts easily explained by telomere theory, such as unlimited growth of tumor cells or why a newborn child starts to age from zero level rather than the level reached by the cells of his parents at the moment of conception. We postulate that if oxidative damage were entirely absent, telomeres would nevertheless shorten with each mitotic cycle, because such is the mechanism of DNA replication, and aging would progress, which we invariantly observe in the presence of any antioxidants. However, if telomeres do not shorten, as happens in transformed cells because telomerase works there, aging does cease and the transformed cells show no senescence. We also observe it in spite of the damaging effect of reactive oxygen species. which may be even more than in normal cells.


telomere shortening reactive oxygen species radiation damages 


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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of CytologyRussian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia

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