Cell division rates decrease with age, providing a potential explanation for the age-dependent deceleration in cancer incidence

Cristian Tomasetti, Justin Poling, Nicholas J. Roberts, Nyall R. London, Meredith E. Pittman, Michael C. Haffner, Anthony Rizzo, Alex Baras, Baktiar Karim, Antonio Kim, Christopher M. Heaphy, Alan K. Meeker, Ralph H. Hruban, Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue, Bert Vogelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A new evaluation of previously published data suggested to us that the accumulation of mutations might slow, rather than increase, as individuals age. To explain this unexpected finding, we hypothesized that normal stem cell division rates might decrease as we age. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated cell division rates in the epithelium of human colonic, duodenal, esophageal, and posterior ethmoid sinonasal tissues. In all 4 tissues, there was a significant decrease in cell division rates with age. In contrast, cell division rates did not decrease in the colon of aged mice, and only small decreases were observed in their small intestine or esophagus. These results have important implications for understanding the relationship between normal stem cells, aging, and cancer. Moreover, they provide a plausible explanation for the enigmatic age-dependent deceleration in cancer incidence in very old humans but not in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20482-20488
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume116
Issue number41
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 8 2019

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Cell division
  • Mutation rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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