Received July 31, 2015; Revision received August 28, 2015
The interpretation of aging as adaptive, i.e. as a phenomenon genetically determined and modulated, and with an evolutionary advantage, implies that aging, as any physiologic mechanism, must have phylogenetic connections with similar phenomena. This review tries to find the phylogenetic connections between vertebrate aging and some related phenomena in other species, especially within those phenomena defined as phenoptotic, i.e. involving the death of one or more individuals for the benefit of other individuals. In particular, the aim of the work is to highlight and analyze similarities and connections, in the mechanisms and in the evolutionary causes, between: (i) proapoptosis in prokaryotes and apoptosis in unicellular eukaryotes; (ii) apoptosis in unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes; (iii) aging in yeast and in vertebrates; and (iv) the critical importance of the DNA subtelomeric segment in unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes. In short, there is strong evidence that vertebrate aging has clear similarities and connections with phenomena present in organisms with simpler organization. These phylogenetic connections are a necessary element for the sustainability of the thesis of aging explained as an adaptive phenomenon, and, on the contrary, are incompatible with the opposite view of aging as being due to the accumulation of random damages of various kinds.
KEY WORDS: IMICAW, aging, phenoptosis, telomere, telomerase, apoptosis, proapoptosis