Advanced Glycation End-Products
It has been proposed for some time that one reason we age is the accumulation of sugary metabolic wastes known as advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). AGEs are wastes that are, in some cases, hard for our metabolisms to break down quickly enough or even at all.
There are many types of AGEs, although none are as common as glucosepane, which is the most abundant by a huge margin. The body does not appear to be able to break down glucosepane, and it can last several decades once formed.
AGEs, such as glucosepane, form cross-links, fusing together important proteins, such as the ones making up the supporting extracellular matrix scaffold, and preventing them from moving.
The elastic properties of skin and blood vessel walls are due to the extracellular matrix having a particular structure, and cross-links degrade that structure, preventing it from functioning correctly. AGEs contribute to blood vessel stiffening with age and are implicated in hypertension and diabetes.
For more information, check out our comprehensive review of AGEs and their role in the aging process.