Recent research published in the scientific journal Aging Cell reveals that people with Down syndrome show signs of accelerated aging as compared with people that do not have Down syndrome. These findings may help to explain why those with Down syndrome have a shorter life expectancy and an increased risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s at an especially early age.
A research team at the University of California in Los Angeles set out to decipher whether people with Down syndrome are simply more prone to developing conditions associated with aging earlier than most OR if they actually age faster than the average population at a molecular level.
Previous research has established that people with Down syndrome tend to go grey and develop wrinkles prematurely (among other things). The research team at UCLA took previous research a step forward by examining the molecular age of brain and blood tissue in people with Trisomy 21. Interestingly enough, they found that brain tissue in subjects with Down syndrome appears to be 10 years older biologically than it should at the subject’s actual age. For example, if the subject with Down syndrome was 40 years old, his or her brain tissue appears to be 50 years old. The study also noted a 4 year difference in biological and chronological age with respect to blood tissue.
These findings suggest that certain parts of the body age at an accelerated rate in those with Down syndrome. However, further research is necessary to determine why this is the case and whether there are other parts of the body that age prematurely in people with Down syndrome.
To read the study in its entirety, visit Wiley’s online library for a PDF version. To read more about Down syndrome and your rights in the event of prenatal misdiagnosis, visit our Down syndrome page.