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. 2012 Apr 13;110(8):1097-108.
doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.246876.

The Intersection Between Aging and Cardiovascular Disease

Free PMC article

The Intersection Between Aging and Cardiovascular Disease

Brian J North et al. Circ Res. .
Free PMC article


The average lifespan of humans is increasing, and with it the percentage of people entering the 65 and older age group is growing rapidly and will continue to do so in the next 20 years. Within this age group, cardiovascular disease will remain the leading cause of death, and the cost associated with treatment will continue to increase. Aging is an inevitable part of life and unfortunately poses the largest risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Although numerous studies in the cardiovascular field have considered both young and aged humans, there are still many unanswered questions as to how the genetic pathways that regulate aging in model organisms influence cardiovascular aging. Likewise, in the molecular biology of aging field, few studies fully assess the role of these aging pathways in cardiovascular health. Fortunately, this gap is beginning to close, and these two fields are merging together. We provide an overview of some of the key genes involved in regulating lifespan and health span, including sirtuins, AMP-activated protein kinase, mammalian target of rapamycin, and insulin-like growth factor 1 and their roles regulating cardiovascular health. We then discuss a series of review articles that will appear in succession and provide a more comprehensive analysis of studies carried out linking genes of aging and cardiovascular health, and perspectives of future directions of these two intimately linked fields.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Age-dependent changes to cardiovascular tissues
Both the heart and vasculature undergo numerous alterations during aging as a result of deregulation of molecular longevity pathways, leading to compromised function. Illustration credit: Cosmocyte/Ben Smith.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Pathway leading from calorie restriction to longevity
Calorie restriction modulates factors in the longevity network, leading to alterations in cellular responses to stress, affecting common diseases of aging and influencing longevity.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Model for a longevity network
Positive and negative feedback regulation between genes involved in lifespan and age-related diseases including sirtuins, AMPK, IGF-1, and TOR.

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