Progeria is one of the better known accelerated aging conditions. It isn’t actually accelerated aging, but rather one specific runaway form of cell damage that gives rise to general dysfunction in cells throughout the body. Since degenerative aging is also a matter of general dysfunction in cells throughout the body, there is some overlap in the observed results, even though the root causes are completely different. So progeria patients appear, superficially at least, to be prematurely aged, and die from heart disease early in life.
The cause of progeria was discovered to be a mutation in the Lamin A (LMNA) gene, resulting in a malformed protein now called progerin. This protein is an important structural component of the cell nucleus. If it doesn’t function correctly, the nucleus becomes misshapen, and near all processes involving nuclear DNA maintenance and gene expression – the production of needed proteins at the right time from their genetic blueprints – cease to work correctly. The cell becomes dysfunctional. When near all cells are in this state, the prognosis for the individual is dire. Interestingly, in the years since this discovery, it has become clear that progerin is also present in small amounts in genetically
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