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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1975 Nov;72(11):4664-8.

Evolution of human longevity and the genetic complexity governing aging rate.


Genetic complexity of processes governing the aging rate of man was estimated by determining the maximum rate lifespan has evolved along the hominid ancestral-descendant sequence. Maximum lifespan potential was found to have increased approximately 2-fold over the past 3 million years, reaching a maximum rate of increase of 14 years per 100,000 years about 100,000 years ago. It is estimated that about 0.6% of the total functional genes have received substitutions leading to one or more adaptive amino acid changes during this 100,000-year time-period. This suggests that aging is not the result of an expression of a large number of independently acting processes. Instead, primary aging processes appear to exist where only a few genetic changes are necessary to decrease uniformly the aging rate of many different physiological functions.

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