Strengths and opportunities in research into extracellular matrix ageing: A consultation with the ECMage research community

Bioessays. 2024 May;46(5):e2300223. doi: 10.1002/bies.202300223. Epub 2024 Mar 24.


Ageing causes progressive decline in metabolic, behavioural, and physiological functions, leading to a reduced health span. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the three-dimensional network of macromolecules that provides our tissues with structure and biomechanical resilience. Imbalance between damage and repair/regeneration causes the ECM to undergo structural deterioration with age, contributing to age-associated pathology. The ECM 'Ageing Across the Life Course' interdisciplinary research network (ECMage) was established to bring together researchers in the United Kingdom, and internationally, working on the emerging field of ECM ageing. Here we report on a consultation at a joint meeting of ECMage and the Medical Research Council / Versus Arthritis Centre for Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Ageing, held in January 2023, in which delegates analysed the key questions and research opportunities in the field of ECM ageing. We examine fundamental biological questions, enabling technologies, systems of study and emerging in vitro and in silico models, alongside consideration of the broader challenges facing the field.

Keywords: ageing; biophysics; chronobiology; extracellular matrix; model systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • United Kingdom