It's been known for quite a long time that a few metals, including iron, accumulate in human tissues amid maturing and that harmful levels of iron have been connected to neurologic maladies, like Parkinson's. Common belief has held that iron accumulation happens as a consequence of the aging process. But research in the nematode C. elegans in the Lithgow lab at the Buck Institute demonstrates that iron collection itself might likewise be a critical supporter to the aging process, causing dysfunction and malfolding of proteins already implicated in the aging process. The research is online in Aging.
Similar to what happens in humans and other mammals, researchers found that levels of calcium, copper, iron and manganese increased as the worms aged. However iron accumulated much more than the others, said Buck faculty Gordon Lithgow, PhD, senior scientist on the project.
Researchers began manipulating the nematode's diet. They fed iron to four day-old worms, and within a couple of days they looked like 15 day-old worms. Excess iron accelerated the aging process." Excess iron is known to generate oxidative stress and researchers expected to see changes in the worm based on that toxicity. It looked much more like normal aging on the contrary.