Review Volume 8, Issue 4 pp 589—602

Principles of alternative gerontology

Tomasz Bilinski 1, , Aneta Bylak 2, , Renata Zadrag-Tecza 1, ,

  • 1 Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, University of Rzeszow, 35-601 Rzeszow, Poland
  • 2 Department of Environmental Biology, University of Rzeszow, 35-601 Rzeszow, Poland

received: January 19, 2016 ; accepted: February 24, 2016 ; published: March 25, 2016 ;
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Surveys of taxonomic groups of animals have shown that contrary to the opinion of most gerontologists aging is not a genuine trait. The process of aging is not universal and its mechanisms have not been widely conserved among species. All life forms are subject to extrinsic and intrinsic destructive forces. Destructive effects of stochastic events are visible only when allowed by the specific life program of an organism. Effective life programs of immortality and high longevity eliminate the impact of unavoidable damage. Organisms that are capable of agametic reproduction are biologically immortal. Mortality of an organism is clearly associated with terminal specialisation in sexual reproduction. The longevity phenotype that is not accompanied by symptoms of senescence has been observed in those groups of animals that continue to increase their body size after reaching sexual maturity. This is the result of enormous regeneration abilities of both of the above-mentioned groups. Senescence is observed when: (i) an organism by principle switches off the expression of existing growth and regeneration programs, as in the case of imago formation in insect development; (ii) particular programs of growth and regeneration of progenitors are irreversibly lost, either partially or in their entirety, in mammals and birds.

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” (Ascribed to Albert Einstein)


Aging:: The term refers to accumulation of negative consequences of passing of time (senescence) and increased probability of death. Due to its ambiguity, this term should not be used in scientific publications, except when describing this dual meaning.; Cellular and organismal-level waste retention:: These processes of various origins can be either neutral or potentially harmful. The most harmful are those concerning the organismal level, e.g. atherosclerotic plaques, gall or nephric stones. At the cellular level, retention depends on the rate of their formation and dilution during cell division. The accumulation of lipofuscins in post-mitotic cells results simply from their resistance to enzymatic degradation and inability of dilution during subsequent mitotic cycles.; Internal environment:: Comprises extracellular space of a multicellular organism under control of the organism as a whole. The term applies mainly to the space to which body fluids have open access.; Senescence:: Describes complex negative changes observed in organisms during the passing of time.; Spandrel:: A trait which is not genuine and evolved as a side effect of an original trait.; Weakest link in the life program:: A trait which is a built-in side effect of the chosen life program, causing death of an organism which shows no symptoms of senescence.; Wear and tear processes:: This term refers to organismal-level effects of operation of stochastic or purely accidental destructive processes. The presence of such processes could be transient and cannot be identified with senescence..