Ageing is generally viewed as a detrimental phenotype; with age comes increasing susceptibility
to disease and frailty. Recent data also suggests that disease can result in an increase in ageing
phenotypes suggesting a positive feedback loop. It is clear that lifespan can be modified genetically
and by interventions in certain organisms but the mechanisms by which this is achieved have not yet
been fully elucidated, as indeed is the case for the ageing process itself. Because of the intimate relationship
between disease, ageing and ultimately lifespan it is difficult to dissect the effects of individual
changes. As we learn more about individual pathways and allelic variants influencing ageing and
disease we can begin to unravel the influence of natural selection on these processes.
Keywords: Ageing, disease, genetics, natural selection, phenotyping, pleiotropy.
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