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Up-regulating telomerase and tumor suppressors: focusing on anti-aging interventions at the population level.

Authors: Fernando Pires FP. Hartwig, Daniel D. Bertoldi, Martin M. Larangeira, Mônica Silveira MS. Wagner
Published: 10/08/2013, Aging and disease


Most human populations are undergoing a demographic transition regarding their age structure. This transition is reflected in chronic non-communicable diseases featuring among the main contributors to burden of disease. Considering that the aging process is a major risk factor for such conditions, understanding the mechanisms underlying aging and age-related diseases is critical to develop strategies to impact human health at population and/or individual-levels. Two different aspects of aging process (namely, telomere shortening and DNA damage accumulation) were shown to interact in positively impacting mice median survival. However, strategies aimed at translating such knowledge into actual human health benefits have not yet been discussed. In this manuscript, we present potential exposures that are suited for population-level interventions, and contextualize the roles of population (based on behavioral exposures) and individual-level (based on small-molecule administration) anti-aging interventions in different levels of disease prevention. We suggest that exposures such as moderate wine consumption, reducing calorie intake and active lifestyle are potentially useful for primordial and primary prevention, while small-molecules that activate telomerase and/or tumor suppression responses are more suited for secondary and tertiary prevention (although important for primary prevention in specific population subgroups). We also indicate the need of studying the impacts, on aging and age-related diseases, of different combinations of these exposures in well-conducted randomized controlled trials, and propose Mendelian randomization as a valuable alternative to gather information in human populations regarding the effects of potential anti-aging interventions.

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