Hot Topics: A new study shows that human ageing is absolutely precise, when disease is eliminated, and accompanied by a disintegration of metabolic efficiency

Human ageing is just disintegration, but absolutely precise, linked to loss of VO2 max, which is why COVID is age-related.

A new study (1) shows that the decline in human performance with age at 5000 m, an athletic event requiring high VO2 max (oxygen use), is remarkably precise, and unavoidable, and related to entropy, even at an individual level. Women and men show an identical age-related decline, up to ~100 years old. The precision of the decline shows the limitations for therapy of aging. Mortality incidence for COVID19 shows a similar relationship. The authors propose that initial VO2 max has a critical role in COVID sensitivity because of the direct relationship of disease severity with oxygen use, and the parallel decline in aging: mitochondria are targeted by viruses. The highest human recorded VO2 max is 96, but is only 13 in nursing home residents, where metabolic capacity is massively reduced.

Humans, with a long active life, may therefore have already optimised ageing and metabolism (2) compared to short-lived animals which are used in studies of anti-ageing drugs.

As the results involve the very best age-related performances of humanity (by definition healthy), and there is absolute mathematical precision in the decline, there is no room for improvement, so drugs to slow ageing (apart from offsetting specific ageing-related diseases) may well remain a mirage. The results of the study are compatible with decline due to entropy, just a general disintegration, with different diseases developing by chance, heredity or the environment in a disintegrating body.

Funding could be better spent on ensuring a humane and dignified exit at the end of life when metabolism breaks down completely. Nevertheless, exercise (such as 5000M parkruns) has been previously shown to extend active life by ~7 years (3).

  1. Spedding M, Marvaud R, Marck A, Delarochelambert Q, Toussaint JF. Aging, VO2 max, entropy, and COVID-19. Indian J Pharmacol 2022;54:58-62. PMID: 35343209.
  2. Bozek K, Wei Y, Yan Z, Liu X, Xiong J, Sugimoto M, Tomita M, Pääbo S, Pieszek R, Sherwood CC, Hof PR, Ely JJ, Steinhauser D, Willmitzer L, Bangsbo J, Hansson O, Call J, Giavalisco P, Khaitovich P. Exceptional evolutionary divergence of human muscle and brain metabolomes parallels human cognitive and physical uniqueness. PLoS Biol. 2014 May 27;12(5):e1001871. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001871. PMID: 24866127.
  3. Garatachea N, Pareja-Galeano H, Sanchis-Gomar F, Santos-Lozano A, Fiuza-Luces C, Morán M, Emanuele E, Joyner MJ, Lucia A. Exercise attenuates the major hallmarks of aging. Rejuvenation Res. 2015 Feb;18(1):57-89. doi: 10.1089/rej.2014.1623. PMID: 25431878.

Comments by the Guide to Pharmacology Curation Team, University of Edinburgh

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