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Cell Cycle. 2006 Sep;5(18):2087-102. Epub 2006 Sep 15.

Aging and immortality: quasi-programmed senescence and its pharmacologic inhibition.

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While ruling out programmed aging, evolutionary theory predicts a quasi-program for aging, a continuation of the developmental program that is not turned off, is constantly on, becoming hyper-functional and damaging, causing diseases of aging. Could it be switched off pharmacologically? This would require identification of a molecular target involved in cell senescence, organism aging and diseases of aging. Notably, cell senescence is associated with activation of the TOR (target of rapamycin) nutrient- and mitogen-sensing pathway, which promotes cell growth, even though cell cycle is blocked. Is TOR involved in organism aging? In fact, in yeast (where the cell is the organism), caloric restriction, rapamycin and mutations that inhibit TOR all slow down aging. In animals from worms to mammals caloric restrictions, life-extending agents, and numerous mutations that increase longevity all converge on the TOR pathway. And, in humans, cell hypertrophy, hyper-function and hyperplasia, typically associated with activation of TOR, contribute to diseases of aging. Theoretical and clinical considerations suggest that rapamycin may be effective against atherosclerosis, hypertension and hyper-coagulation (thus, preventing myocardial infarction and stroke), osteoporosis, cancer, autoimmune diseases and arthritis, obesity, diabetes, macula-degeneration, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Finally, I discuss that extended life span will reveal new causes for aging (e.g., ROS, 'wear and tear', Hayflick limit, stem cell exhaustion) that play a limited role now, when quasi-programmed senescence kills us first.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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