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Bioessays. 2013 Nov;35(11):994-1003. doi: 10.1002/bies.201300075. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

Stem cells and aging from a quasi-immortal point of view.

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Zoological Institute, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany.


Understanding aging and how it affects an organism's lifespan is a fundamental problem in biology. A hallmark of aging is stem cell senescence, the decline of functionality, and number of somatic stem cells, resulting in an impaired regenerative capacity and reduced tissue function. In addition, aging is characterized by profound remodeling of the immune system and a quantitative decline of adequate immune responses, a phenomenon referred to as immune-senescence. Yet, what is causing stem cell and immune-senescence? This review discusses experimental studies of potentially immortal Hydra which have made contributions to answering this question. Hydra transcription factor FoxO has been shown to modulate both stem cell proliferation and innate immunity, lending strong support to a role of FoxO as critical rate-of-aging regulator from Hydra to human. Constructing a model of how FoxO responds to diverse environmental factors provides a framework for how stem cell factors might contribute to aging.


FoxO; Hydra; aging; immune-senescence; innate immunity; stem cells

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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