Ageing and lifespan are strongly affected by metabolism. The maximal possible uptake of oxygen is not only a good predictor of performance in endurance sports, but also of life expectancy. Figuratively speaking, healthy ageing is a competitive sport. Although the root cause of ageing is damage to macromolecules, it is the balance with repair processes that is decisive. Reduced or intermittent nutrition, hormones and intracellular signalling pathways that regulate metabolism have strong effects on ageing. Homeostatic regulatory processes tend to keep the environment of the cells within relatively narrow bounds. On the other hand, the body is constantly adapting to physical activity and food consumption. Spontaneous fluctuations in heart rate and other processes indicate youth and health. A (homeo)dynamic aspect of homeostasis deteriorates with age. We are now in a position to develop computational models of human metabolism and the dynamics of heart rhythm and oxygen transport that will advance our understanding of ageing. Computational modelling of the connections between dietary restriction, metabolism and protein turnover may increase insight into homeostasis of the proteins in our body. In this way, the computational reconstruction of human physiological processes, the Physiome, can help prevent frailty and age-related disease.
One contribution of 12 to a theme issue ‘The Human Physiome: a necessary key to the creative destruction of medicine’.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.