Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
The elderly population is increasing progressively. Along with this increase the number of age related diseases, such as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic impairment and cancer, is also on the rise thereby negatively impacting the burden on health care systems. Telomere shortening and dysfunction results in cellular senescence, an irreversible proliferative arrest that has been suggested to promote organismal aging and disabling age-related diseases. Given that telomerase, the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomere lengths, is not expressed at levels sufficient to prevent telomere shortening in most of our cells, telomeres progressively erode with advancing age. Telomerase activation, therefore, might serve as a viable therapeutic strategy to delay the onset of cellular senescence, tissue dysfunction and organismal decline. Here we analyze the more recent findings in telomerase activation as a potential key modulator for human healthspan and longevity.