The great unravelling: chromatin as a modulator of the aging process

Trends Biochem Sci. 2012 Nov;37(11):466-76. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2012.08.001. Epub 2012 Sep 6.


During embryogenesis, the establishment of chromatin states permits the implementation of genetic programs that allow the faithful development of the organism. However, these states are not fixed and there is much evidence that stochastic or chronic deterioration of chromatin organization, as correlated by transcriptional alterations and the accumulation of DNA damage in cells, occurs during the lifespan of the individual. Whether causal or simply a byproduct of macromolecular decay, these changes in chromatin states have emerged as potentially central conduits of mammalian aging. This review explores the current state of our understanding of the links between chromatin organization and aging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly*
  • DNA Repair
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans


  • Chromatin
  • Heterochromatin
  • Histones