Horizons in the evolution of aging

BMC Biol. 2018 Aug 20;16(1):93. doi: 10.1186/s12915-018-0562-z.

Abstract

Between the 1930s and 50s, evolutionary biologists developed a successful theory of why organisms age, firmly rooted in population genetic principles. By the 1980s the evolution of aging had a secure experimental basis. Since the force of selection declines with age, aging evolves due to mutation accumulation or a benefit to fitness early in life. Here we review major insights and challenges that have emerged over the last 35 years: selection does not always necessarily decline with age; higher extrinsic (i.e., environmentally caused) mortality does not always accelerate aging; conserved pathways control aging rate; senescence patterns are more diverse than previously thought; aging is not universal; trade-offs involving lifespan can be 'broken'; aging might be 'druggable'; and human life expectancy continues to rise but compressing late-life morbidity remains a pressing challenge.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Longevity / genetics
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Mortality
  • Selection, Genetic / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology