Aging is due to the accumulation of damage over time that affects the function and survival of the organism; however, it has proven difficult to infer the relative importance of the many processes that contribute to aging. To address this, here we outline an approach that may prove useful in analyzing aging. In this approach, the function of the organism is described as a set of interacting physiological systems. Degradation of their outputs leads to functional decline and death as a result of aging. In turn, degradation of the system outputs is attributable to changes at the next hierarchical level down, the cell, through changes in cell number or function, which are in turn a consequence of the metabolic history of the cell. Within this framework, we then adapt the methods of metabolic control analysis (MCA) to determine which modifications are important for aging. This combination of a hierarchical framework and the methodologies of MCA may prove useful both for thinking about aging and for analyzing it experimentally.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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