What are telomeres?
The word Telomere (tel-uh-meer) comes from the Greek telos (end) and meros (part).
Telomeres are repeated sequences of DNA, along with their associated proteins, at the ends of each chromosome. The function of telomeres is to protect chromosome ends from chromosome fusions and degradation during the process of cellular replication, therefore, ensuring the proper functionality and viability of cells. Cell division plays a critical role in normal growth, maintenance and repair of all human tissues, including skin.
One common analogy is that telomeres are like the plastic caps at the end of shoelaces which keep the laces from unraveling. Without the coating, shoelaces become frayed until they can no longer do their job, just as without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job.
Telomeres shorten every time a cell divides, and once telomeres reach a critically short length, the cell either dies by apoptosis or stops dividing and senesces. Telomeres are shortened as we age, but telomeres can also be shortened by stress, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet.