Aging is characterized by a stochastic accumulation of molecular damage, progressive failure of maintenance and repair, and consequent onset of age-related diseases. Applying hormesis in aging research and therapy is based on the principle of stimulation of maintenance and repair pathways by repeated exposure to mild stress. In a series of experimental studies we have shown that repetitive mild heat stress has anti-aging hormetic effects on growth and various other cellular and biochemical characteristics of human skin fibroblasts undergoing aging in vitro. These effects include the maintenance of stress protein profiles, reduction in the accumulation of oxidatively and glycoxidatively damaged proteins, stimulation of the proteasomal activities for the degradation of abnormal proteins, improved cellular resistance to ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet-B rays, and enhanced levels of various antioxidant enzymes. Anti-aging hormetic effects of mild heat shock appear to be facilitated by reducing protein damage and protein aggregation by activating internal antioxidant, repair and degradation processes.
Keywords: Aging; anti-aging; heat shock; proteasome; signal transduction.