The ageing kidney: Molecular mechanisms and clinical implications

Ageing Res Rev. 2020 Nov:63:101151. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2020.101151. Epub 2020 Aug 22.


As human life expectancy keeps increasing, ageing populations present a growing challenge for clinical practices. Human ageing is associated with molecular, structural, and functional changes in a variety of organ systems, including the kidney. During the ageing process, the kidney experiences progressive functional decline as well as macroscopic and microscopic histological alterations, which are accentuated by systemic comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes mellitus, or by preexisting or underlying kidney diseases. Although ageing per se does not cause kidney injury, physiologic changes associated with normal ageing processes are likely to impair the reparative capacity of the kidney and thus predispose older people to acute kidney disease, chronic kidney disease and other renal diseases. Mechanistically, cell senescence plays a key role in renal ageing, involving a number of cellular signaling mechanisms, many of which may be harnessed as international targets for slowing or even reversing kidney ageing. This review summarizes the clinical characteristics of renal ageing, highlights the latest progresses in deciphering the role of cell senescence in renal ageing, and envisages potential interventional strategies and novel therapeutic targets for preventing or improving renal ageing in the hope of maintaining long-term kidney health and function across the life course.

Keywords: Glomeruli; Kidney diseases; Kidney transplantation; Nephrosclerosis; Renal tubules; Senescence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Kidney*