Research Article: The dark side of circulating nucleic acids

Date Published: February 22, 2016

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Author(s): Silvia Gravina, John M. Sedivy, Jan Vijg.


Free circulating or cell‐free DNA (cfDNA), possibly from dying cells that release their contents into the blood as they break down, have become of major interest as a source for noninvasive diagnostics. Recent work demonstrated the uptake of human cfDNA in mouse cells in vitro and in vivo, accompanied by the activation of a cellular DNA damage response (DDR) and the appearance of apoptotic proteins in the host cells. By acting as a source of mobile genetic elements, cfDNA could be a continuous source of DNA mutagenesis of healthy cells in the body throughout life, promoting progressive cellular aging in vivo. As such, cfDNA may causally contribute to multiple aging‐related diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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