The geroscience agenda: Toxic stress, hormetic stress, and the rate of aging

Ageing Res Rev. 2020 Nov:63:101167. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2020.101167. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Geroscience offers a counterpoint to the challenged pursuit of curing diseases of aging, by focusing on slowing the biological aging process for extended healthspan earlier in life. Remarkable progress has led this field toward animal trials and the next challenge lies with translation to humans. There is an emerging number of small human trials that can take advantage of new models integrating behavioral and social factors. Understanding dynamic aging mechanisms, given the powerful social determinants of aging (Crimmins, 2020) and human variability and environmental contexts (Moffitt, 2020), will be critical. Behavioral and social factors are intrinsic to aging. Toxic stressors broadly defined can lead to stress-acceleration of aging, either directly impacting aging processes or by shaping poor behavioral health, and underlie the socioeconomic disparities of aging. In contrast, hormetic stressors, acute intermittent stressors of moderate intensity, can produce stress resilience, the ability for quick recovery and possibly rejuvenation of cells and tissues. Although health research usually examines static biomarkers, aging is reflected in dynamic ability to recover from challenges pointing to new interventions and targets for examining mechanisms. A fuller model incorporating stress resilience provides innovative biobehavioral interventions, both for bolstering response to challenges, such as COVID-19, and for improving healthspan.

Keywords: Allostasis; Geroscience; Hormesis; Reserve capacity; Stress; Stress resilience.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections
  • Hormesis*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral
  • Rejuvenation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stress, Physiological*