Healthy aging: is smaller better? - a mini-review

Gerontology. 2012;58(4):337-43. doi: 10.1159/000335166. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


A recent report of virtually complete protection from diabetes and cancer in a population of people with hereditary dwarfism revived interest in elucidating the relationships between growth, adult body size, age-related disease and longevity. In many species, smaller individuals outlive those that are larger and a similar relationship was shown in studies of various human populations. Adult body size is strongly dependent on the actions of growth hormone (GH) and the absence of GH or GH receptor in mice leads to a remarkable extension of longevity. Many mechanisms that may account for, or contribute to, this association have been identified. It is suggested that modest modifications of the diet at different ages may extend human healthspan and lifespan by reducing levels of hormones that stimulate growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Size / physiology*
  • Dwarfism / pathology
  • Dwarfism / physiopathology
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / deficiency
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / deficiency
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Receptors, Somatotropin / deficiency
  • Receptors, Somatotropin / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / deficiency
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology


  • Insulin
  • Receptors, Somatotropin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases