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Stem Cells. 2014 Sep;32(9):2291-8. doi: 10.1002/stem.1720.

Concise review: the epigenetic contribution to stem cell ageing: can we rejuvenate our older cells?

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Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, The International Centre for Life, Central Parkway, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


Although certainly one of the most recognizable characteristics of human biology, aging remains one of the least understood. This is largely attributable to the fact that aging is both gradual and inherently complex, with almost all aspects of physiology and phenotype undergoing steady modification with advancing age. The complexity of the aging process does not allow for a single all-encompassing definition, yet decades of study using diverse systems, methodologies, and model organisms have begun to build a consensus regarding the central physiological characteristics of aging. Indeed, such studies have shown that the process of aging is invariably accompanied by a diminished capacity to adequately maintain tissue homeostasis or to repair tissues after injury. When homeostatic control diminishes to the point at which tissue/organ integrity and function are no longer sufficiently maintained, physiologic decline ensues, and aging is manifested. Inadequate organ homeostasis indicates possible dysfunction of tissue-specific stem cells. Several mechanisms have been postulated to account for age-related cellular changes; however, increasing literature evidence suggests that age-related changes to the epigenome make a major contribution to the aged phenotype. In this review, we discuss the evidence for epigenetic contributions to tissue-specific stem cell ageing.


Ageing; DNA damage; Epigenetics; Mitochondria; Stem cells

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