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Testing Predictions of the Programmed and Stochastic Theories of Aging: Comparison of Variation in Age at Death, Menopause, and Sexual Maturation

N. S. Gavrilova1*, L. A. Gavrilov1, F. F. Severin2, and V. P. Skulachev2

1Center on Aging, NORC at The University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th str., Chicago, IL 60637, USA; fax: 1-773-643-8608; E-mail: nsgavril@alumni.uchicago.edu

2Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology and Institute of Mitoengineering, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received March 27, 2012
One of the arguments against aging being programmed is the assumption that variation in the timing of aging-related outcomes is much higher compared to variation in timing of the events programmed by ontogenesis. The main objective of this study was to test the validity of this argument. To this aim, we compared absolute variability (standard deviation) and relative variability (coefficient of variation) for parameters that are known to be determined by the developmental program (age at sexual maturity) with variability of characteristics related to aging (ages at menopause and death). We used information on the ages at sexual maturation (menarche) and menopause from the nationally representative survey of the adult population of the United States (MIDUS) as well as published data for 14 countries. We found that coefficients of variation are in the range of 8-13% for age at menarche, 7-11% for age at menopause, and 16-21% for age at death. Thus, the relative variability for the age at death is only twice higher than for the age at menarche, while the relative variability for the age at menopause is almost the same as for the age at menarche.
KEY WORDS: aging, variability, menarche, menopause, lifespan

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297912070085