Aging is a natural process that involves a general decline in many physiological functions, resulting in loss of function and eventually death. Extensive research is being performed in order to elucidate the biology of aging, especially with the advent of newer molecular and genetic methodologies. The endocrine system plays a major role in orchestrating cellular interactions, metabolism, growth, and senescence. Thus, researchers traditionally used hormones as tools to induce and examine specific biological effects that are associated with aging. Furthermore, because our recent knowledge on hormonal action expanded significantly, downstream pathways and genetic determinants currently prevail in aging research. In this review, we will summarize the effects of several hormones on human aging and longevity and present recent data from the Longevity Genes Study performed at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, looking at the phenotype and genotype of centenarians and their offspring. We will demonstrate that genetic factors that are associated with human longevity are heritable and may contribute not only to quantitative longevity but also to protection from age-dependent disease and exceptional good health.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00707694.