Ageing is associated with a decrease in the ability of cells to cope with environmental challenges. This is due partly to the attenuation of a primordial stress response, the so-called heat shock (HS) response, which induces the expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs), composed of chaperones and proteases. The attenuation of the HS response during ageing may be responsible for the accumulation of damaged proteins as well as abnormal regulation of cell death. Maintenance of the HS response by repeated mild heat stress causes anti-ageing hormetic effects on cells and organisms. Here, we describe the molecular mechanism and the state of the HS response as well as the role of specific HSPs during ageing, and discuss the possibility of hormetic modulation of ageing and longevity by repeated mild stress.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.