Telomere (tel-uh-meer) from the Greek telos (end) and meros (part).
Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age. 1,2
Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. 3
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. 3
DNA makes up all of the cells in our body. It is the genetic material that makes us who we are. And every organ in our body (skin, liver, heart, etc.) is made up of cells. So, telomeres are vital to our health.
Our cells replenish by copying themselves. This happens constantly throughout our lives. Telomeres get shorter each time a cell copies itself, but the important DNA stays intact. 4
Eventually, telomeres get too short to do their job, causing our cells to age and stop functioning properly. 3,4,5 Therefore, telomeres act as the aging clock in every cell.