• Aging and computational systems biology

      Mooney, Kathleen M.; Morgan, Amy; Mc Auley, Mark T.; Edgehill University, University of Chester (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-01-29)
      Aging research is undergoing a paradigm shift, which has led to new and innovative methods of exploring this complex phenomenon. The systems biology approach endeavors to understand biological systems in a holistic manner, by taking account of intrinsic interactions, while also attempting to account for the impact of external inputs, such as diet. A key technique employed in systems biology is computational modeling, which involves mathematically describing and simulating the dynamics of biological systems. Although a large number of computational models have been developed in recent years, these models have focused on various discrete components of the aging process, and to date no model has succeeded in completely representing the full scope of aging. Combining existing models or developing new models may help to address this need and in so doing could help achieve an improved understanding of the intrinsic mechanisms which underpin aging.
    • Cholesterol metabolism: A review of how ageing disrupts the biological mechanisms responsible for its regulation

      Morgan, Amy; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; Pickles, Neil; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester, Edgehill University (Elsevier, 2016-04-01)
      Cholesterol plays a vital role in the human body as a precursor of steroid hormones and bile acids, in addition to providing structure to cell membranes. Whole body cholesterol metabolism is maintained by a highly coordinated balancing act between cholesterol ingestion, synthesis, absorption, and excretion. The aim of this review is to discuss how ageing interacts with these processes. Firstly, we will present an overview of cholesterol metabolism. Following this, we discuss how the biological mechanisms which underpin cholesterol metabolism are effected by ageing. Included in this discussion are lipoprotein dynamics, cholesterol absorption/synthesis and the enterohepatic circulation/synthesis of bile acids. Moreover, we discuss the role of oxidative stress in the pathological progression of atherosclerosis and also discuss how cholesterol biosynthesis is effected by both the mammalian target of rapamycin and sirtuin pathways. Next, we examine how diet and alterations to the gut microbiome can be used to mitigate the impact ageing has on cholesterol metabolism. We conclude by discussing how mathematical models of cholesterol metabolism can be used to identify therapeutic interventions.
    • Investigating Cholesterol Metabolism and Ageing Using a Systems Biology Approach

      Morgan, Amy; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; Pickles, Neil; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2016-11-02)
      CVD accounted for 27 % of all deaths in the UK in 2014, and was responsible for 1·7 million hospital admissions in 2013/2014. This condition becomes increasingly prevalent with age, affecting 34·1 and 29·8 % of males and females over 75 years of age respectively in 2011. The dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism with age, often observed as a rise in LDL-cholesterol, has been associated with the pathogenesis of CVD. To compound this problem, it is estimated by 2050, 22 % of the world's population will be over 60 years of age, in culmination with a growing resistance and intolerance to pre-existing cholesterol regulating drugs such as statins. Therefore, it is apparent research into additional therapies for hypercholesterolaemia and CVD prevention is a growing necessity. However, it is also imperative to recognise this complex biological system cannot be studied using a reductionist approach; rather its biological uniqueness necessitates a more integrated methodology, such as that offered by systems biology. In this review, we firstly discuss cholesterol metabolism and how it is affected by diet and the ageing process. Next, we describe therapeutic strategies for hypercholesterolaemia, and finally how the systems biology paradigm can be utilised to investigate how ageing interacts with complex systems such as cholesterol metabolism. We conclude by emphasising the need for nutritionists to work in parallel with the systems biology community, to develop novel approaches to studying cholesterol metabolism and its interaction with ageing.
    • Mathematically modelling the dynamics of cholesterol metabolism and ageing

      Morgan, Amy; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; Pickles, Neil; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester, Edgehill University (Elsevier, 2016-07-30)
      Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the UK. This conditionbecomes increasingly prevalent during ageing; 34.1% and 29.8% of males and females respectively, over 75years of age have an underlying cardiovascular problem. The dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism isinextricably correlated with cardiovascular health and for this reason low density lipoprotein cholesterol(LDL-C) and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) are routinely used as biomarkers of CVD risk. Theaim of this work was to use mathematical modelling to explore how cholesterol metabolism is affectedby the ageing process. To do this we updated a previously published whole-body mathematical model ofcholesterol metabolism to include an additional 96 mechanisms that are fundamental to this biologicalsystem. Additional mechanisms were added to cholesterol absorption, cholesterol synthesis, reversecholesterol transport (RCT), bile acid synthesis, and their enterohepatic circulation. The sensitivity of themodel was explored by the use of both local and global parameter scans. In addition, acute cholesterolfeeding was used to explore the effectiveness of the regulatory mechanisms which are responsible formaintaining whole-body cholesterol balance. It was found that our model behaves as a hypo-responderto cholesterol feeding, while both the hepatic and intestinal pools of cholesterol increased significantly.The model was also used to explore the effects of ageing in tandem with three different cholesterolester transfer protein (CETP) genotypes. Ageing in the presence of an atheroprotective CETP genotype,conferring low CETP activity, resulted in a 0.6% increase in LDL-C. In comparison, ageing with a genotypereflective of high CETP activity, resulted in a 1.6% increase in LDL-C. Thus, the model has illustrated theimportance of CETP genotypes such as I405V, and their potential role in healthy ageing.
    • Modelling the molecular mechanisms of ageing

      Mc Auley, Mark T.; Martinez Guimera, Alvaro; Hodgson, David; McDonald, Neil; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Morgan, Amy; Proctor, Carole; University of Chester; Edgehill University; Newcastle University (Portland Press, 2017-02-23)
      The ageing process is driven at the cellular level by random molecular damage which slowly accumulates with age. Although cells possess mechanisms to repair or remove damage, they are not 100% efficient and their efficiency declines with age. There are many molecular mechanisms involved and exogenous factors such as stress also contribute to the ageing process. The complexity of the ageing process has stimulated the use of computational modelling in order to increase our understanding of the system, test hypotheses and make testable predictions. As many different mechanisms are involved, a wide range of models have been developed. This paper gives an overview of the types of models that have been developed, the range of tools used, modelling standards, and discusses many specific examples of models which have been grouped according to the main mechanisms that they address. We conclude by discussing the opportunities and challenges for future modelling in this field.
    • Obesity and the Dysregulation of Fatty Acid Metabolism: Implications for Healthy Aging

      Morgan, Amy; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester; Edge Hill University (Taylor & Francis, 2016-10-17)
      The population of the world is aging. In 2010, an estimated 524 million people were aged 65 years or older presenting eight percent of the global population. By 2050, this number is expected to nearly triple to approximately 1.5 billion, 16 percent of the world’s population. Although people are living longer, the quality of their lives are often compromised due to ill-health. Areas covered. Of the conditions which compromise health as we age, obesity is at the forefront. Over half of the global older population were overweight or obese in 2010, significantly increasing the risk of a range of metabolic diseases. Although, it is well recognised excessive calorie intake is a fundamental driver of adipose tissue dysfunction, the relationship between obesity; intrinsic aging; and fat metabolism is less understood. In this review we discuss the intersection between obesity, aging and the factors which contribute to the dysregulation of whole-body fat metabolism. Expert Commentary. Being obese disrupts an array of physiological systems and there is significant crosstalk among these. Moreover it is imperative to acknowledge the contribution intrinsic aging makes to the dysregulation of these systems and the onset of disease.
    • The role of DNA methylation in ageing and cancer

      Morgan, Amy; Davies, Trevor J.; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2018-04-30)
      The aim of the present review paper is to survey the literature related to DNA methylation, and its association with cancer and ageing. The review will outline the key factors, including diet, which modulate DNA methylation. Our rationale for conducting this review is that ageing and diseases, including cancer, are often accompanied by aberrant DNA methylation, a key epigenetic process, which is crucial to the regulation of gene expression. Significantly, it has been observed that with age and certain disease states, DNA methylation status can become disrupted. For instance, a broad array of cancers are associated with promoter-specific hypermethylation and concomitant gene silencing. This review highlights that hypermethylation, and gene silencing, of the EN1 gene promoter, a crucial homeobox gene, has been detected in various forms of cancer. This has led to this region being proposed as a potential biomarker for diseases such as cancer. We conclude the review by describing a recently developed novel electrochemical method that can be used to quantify the level of methylation within the EN1 promoter and emphasise the growing trend in the use of electrochemical techniques for the detection of aberrant DNA methylation.
    • The role of Mathematical Modelling in understanding Aging

      Mc Auley, Mark T.; Morgan, Amy; Mooney, Kathleen M.; University of Chester, Edgehill University (CRC Press, 2017-10-25)
      Mathematical models have played key roles in developing our understanding of aging. The first pioneering mathematical models evaluated aging from an evolutionary perspective, generating meaningful insights into why aging occurs and laid the foundations for our current understanding of aging. More recently mathematical models have been used to gain a deeper understanding of the intracellular mechanisms associated with intrinsic aging. This chapter will outline what mathematical modelling is, and the advantages it has over more conventional approaches used in biogerontology. The steps involved in assembling a model will also be described and the leading theoretical frameworks underpinning them will be outlined. Moreover, we discuss in detail a variety of aging focused mechanistic mathematical models which have been developed in recent years. The chapter concludes by challenging the community to develop a unified mechanistic mathematical model which can be used to examine aging in a more integrated fashion.