Ageing as a risk factor for neurodegenerative disease

Nat Rev Neurol. 2019 Oct;15(10):565-581. doi: 10.1038/s41582-019-0244-7. Epub 2019 Sep 9.


Ageing is the primary risk factor for most neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson disease (PD). One in ten individuals aged ≥65 years has AD and its prevalence continues to increase with increasing age. Few or no effective treatments are available for ageing-related neurodegenerative diseases, which tend to progress in an irreversible manner and are associated with large socioeconomic and personal costs. This Review discusses the pathogenesis of AD, PD and other neurodegenerative diseases, and describes their associations with the nine biological hallmarks of ageing: genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, deregulated nutrient sensing, stem cell exhaustion and altered intercellular communication. The central biological mechanisms of ageing and their potential as targets of novel therapies for neurodegenerative diseases are also discussed, with potential therapies including NAD+ precursors, mitophagy inducers and inhibitors of cellular senescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • DNA Damage / physiology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mitophagy / physiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Risk Factors