The disposable soma theory suggests that longevity is determined through the setting of longevity assurance mechanisms so as to provide an optimal compromise between investments in somatic maintenance (including stress resistance) and in reproduction. A corollary is that species with low extrinsic mortality are predicted to invest relatively more effort in maintenance, resulting in slower intrinsic ageing, than species with high extrinsic mortality.
Hardly an aspect of aging is more important than an organism's ability to withstand stress or to resist both internally and externally imposed insults. We know that as organisms loose their ability to resist these insults, aged organisms suffer more than the young. Therefore, a prime strategy for an organism's survival has been the evolutionarily adapted defense systems that guard against insult. For better survivability, an organism's defense system must be maximized to its full effect through well-coordinated networks of diverse biologically responsive elements.
Caloric restriction has resulted in a consistent robust increase in the maximal length of life in mammalian species. This article reviews significant advances over the long history of research on calorie restriction and longevity.
Many of the genes that affect aging and longevity in model organisms, such as mice, fruit flies, and worms, have human homologs. This article reviews several genetic pathways that may extend lifespan through effects on aging, rather than through effects on diseases such as atherosclerosis or cancer. These include some of the genes involved in the regulation of DNA repair and nuclear structure, which cause the progeroid syndromes when mutated, as well as those that may affect telomere length, since shorter telomeres have been associated with shorter survival.
The chronological lifespan of eukaryotic organisms is extended by the mutational inactivation of conserved growth-signaling pathways that regulate progression into and through the cell cycle. Here we show that in the budding yeast S. cerevisiae, these and other lifespan-extending conditions, including caloric restriction and osmotic stress, increase the efficiency with which nutrient-depleted cells establish or maintain a cell cycle arrest in G1.
Hormesis in aging is represented by mild stress-induced stimulation of protective mechanisms in cells and organisms resulting in biologically beneficial effects. Single or multiple exposure to low doses of otherwise harmful agents, such as irradiation, food limitation, heat stress, hypergravity, reactive oxygen species and other free radicals have a variety of anti-aging and longevity-extending hormetic effects.
Hormesis refers to the beneficial effects of a treatment that at a higher intensity is harmful. In one form of hormesis, sublethal exposure to stressors induces a response that results in stress resistance. The principle of stress-response hormesis is increasingly finding application in studies of aging, where hormetic increases in life span have been seen in several animal models.
Reversible acetylation has emerged as a key post-translational modification of proteins. Although the number of acetylated proteins is rapidly growing, the ways in which protein acetyltransferases and deacetylases connect with extracellular stimuli remain unclear. Recently, a regulatory network has emerged that controls the expression and activity of SIRT1, a mammalian class-III protein deacetylase. SIRT1 is an important regulator of metabolism, senescence, cancer and, possibly, longevity and is connected with crucial stress-responsive signal-transduction pathways.