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EMBO J. 2011 May 17;30(13):2520-31. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.162.

Cellular stress response pathways and ageing: intricate molecular relationships.

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Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


Ageing is driven by the inexorable and stochastic accumulation of damage in biomolecules vital for proper cellular function. Although this process is fundamentally haphazard and uncontrollable, senescent decline and ageing is broadly influenced by genetic and extrinsic factors. Numerous gene mutations and treatments have been shown to extend the lifespan of diverse organisms ranging from the unicellular Saccharomyces cerevisiae to primates. It is becoming increasingly apparent that most such interventions ultimately interface with cellular stress response mechanisms, suggesting that longevity is intimately related to the ability of the organism to effectively cope with both intrinsic and extrinsic stress. Here, we survey the molecular mechanisms that link ageing to main stress response pathways, and mediate age-related changes in the effectiveness of the response to stress. We also discuss how each pathway contributes to modulate the ageing process. A better understanding of the dynamics and reciprocal interplay between stress responses and ageing is critical for the development of novel therapeutic strategies that exploit endogenous stress combat pathways against age-associated pathologies.

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