Approaches to anti-aging intervention: the promises and the uncertainties

Mech Ageing Dev. 1999 Nov;111(2-3):73-87. doi: 10.1016/s0047-6374(99)00072-x.


Humans have long sought the elixir to long life. Today, although advances in our understanding of the aging process have given gerontologists new insights in potential anti-aging interventions, public demand for these interventions is outpacing our current knowledge. My presentation begins with a brief historical background that outlines some of the past and present approaches to anti-aging interventions. Using the dietary restriction paradigm as a prototype, discussions center on a three-pathway model that provides the bases to design effective interventions: (1) retardation of biological aging, (2) suppression of age-related disease, and (3) modulation of cross talk between (1) and (2). One other concept useful for discussion in relation to interventions is the enhancement of an organism's resistance to deter vulnerability to aging and disease. These models are best used to explain the efficacy of currently popular interventions such as antioxidant supplementation and hormone therapies. This presentation further highlights the promises that antioxidant supplements hold in warding off oxidative damage as well as their inherent problems and biological limitations. Also discussed here are the promises and uncertainties of anti-aging interventions by genetic manipulation, as seen in animal model studies, and prophylactic treatments targeted against disease, such as hormonal approaches using estrogen and DHEA, as well as other intervening measures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / pharmacology
  • Diet
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Geriatrics / methods*
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Melatonin / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Estrogens
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Growth Hormone
  • Melatonin