Ethical aspects of aging research

Biogerontology. 2011 Dec;12(6):491-502. doi: 10.1007/s10522-011-9340-9. Epub 2011 May 22.


During the last 50-60 years, due to development of medical care and hygienically safe living conditions, the average life span of European citizens has substantially increased, with a rapid growth of the population older than 65 years. This trend places ever-growing medical and economical burden on society, as many of the older subjects suffer from age-related diseases and frailty. Coping with these problems requires not only appropriate medical treatment and social support but also extensive research in many fields of aging-from biology to sociology, with involvement of older people as the research subjects. This work anticipates development and application of ethical standards suited to dynamic advances in aging research. The aim of this review is to update the knowledge in ethical requirements toward recruitment of older research subjects, obtaining of informed consent, collection of biological samples, and use of stem cells in preclinical and clinical settings. It is concluded that application of adequate ethical platform markedly facilitates recruitment of older persons for participation in research. Currently, the basic ethical concepts are subjected to extensive discussion, with participation of all interested parties, in order to guarantee successful research on problems of human aging, protect older people from undesired interference, and afford their benefits through supporting innovations in research, therapy, and care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Geriatrics / ethics*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Longevity
  • Patient Selection / ethics
  • Specimen Handling / ethics
  • Stem Cell Research / ethics
  • Tissue Banks / ethics