Exp Gerontol, 35(1):15-21, 2000. Paper Website abstract bibtex
Aging is a universal phenomenon that affects nearly all animal species. It can be considered as the product of an interaction between genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, which in turn influence longevity that varies between and within species. Several studies have been focused in healthy centenarians, because these exceptional individuals represent the best example of successful aging. These studies have shown that centenarians have escaped the major age-associated diseases, they have well conserved several immune parameters, and at least one gene allele has been identified and linked with longevity. In parallel, studies at cellular level have identified several genes that influence, positively or negatively, normal replicative in vitro life-span. The ability of these genes to regulate aging in vitro, in conjunction with the telomeres shortening hypothesis have raised the intriguing question of the existence of a molecular clock that counts and thus may modulates human aging and longevity. This review article will discuss these issues, focusing in the nature of the genetic factors that associate with these phenomena.