The impact of life stress on hallmarks of aging and accelerated senescence: Connections in sickness and in health

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2023 Oct:153:105359. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2023.105359. Epub 2023 Aug 15.


Chronic stress is a risk factor for numerous aging-related diseases and has been shown to shorten lifespan in humans and other social mammals. Yet how life stress causes such a vast range of diseases is still largely unclear. In recent years, the impact of stress on health and aging has been increasingly associated with the dysregulation of the so-called hallmarks of aging. These are basic biological mechanisms that influence intrinsic cellular functions and whose alteration can lead to accelerated aging. Here, we review correlational and experimental literature (primarily focusing on evidence from humans and murine models) on the contribution of life stress - particularly stress derived from adverse social environments - to trigger hallmarks of aging, including cellular senescence, sterile inflammation, telomere shortening, production of reactive oxygen species, DNA damage, and epigenetic changes. We also evaluate the validity of stress-induced senescence and accelerated aging as an etiopathological proposition. Finally, we highlight current gaps of knowledge and future directions for the field, and discuss perspectives for translational geroscience.

Keywords: Biological age; Chronic stress; Epigenetic; Geroscience; Senescence; Social stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging* / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence* / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Mice
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Telomere Shortening