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Ageing Res Rev. 2011 Apr;10(2):181-90. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2010.01.002. Epub 2010 Jan 28.

Comparative cellular biogerontology: primer and prospectus.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, 48109, United States.


Most prior work on the biological basis of aging has focused on describing differences between young and old individuals but provided only limited insight into the mechanisms controlling the rate of aging. Natural selection has produced a goldmine of experimental material, in the form of species of differing aging rate, whose longevity can vary by 10-fold or more within mammalian orders, but these resources remain largely unexplored at the cellular level. In this review article we focus on one approach to comparative biogerontology: the strategy of evaluating the properties of cultured cells from organisms of varying lifespan and aging rate. In addition, we discuss problems associated with the analysis and interpretations of interspecific variation of cellular trait data among species with disparate longevity. Given the impressive array of 'natural experiments' in aging rate, overcoming the technical and conceptual obstacles confronting research in comparative cellular gerontology will be well worth the effort.

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