The escalating social and economic burden of an aging world population has placed aging research at center stage. The hallmarks of aging comprise diverse molecular mechanisms and cellular systems that are interrelated and act in concert to drive the aging process. Here, through the lens of telomere biology, we examine how telomere dysfunction may amplify or drive molecular biological processes underlying each hallmark of aging and contribute to development of age-related diseases such as neurodegeneration and cancer. The intimate link of telomeres to aging hallmarks informs preventive and therapeutic interventions designed to attenuate aging itself and reduce the incidence of age-associated diseases.
This review provides an overview of the history and current state of telomere research, highlights mechanistic connections between telomere dysfunction and aging hallmarks, and examines the seemingly pervasive roles of telomeres and telomerase in driving hallmarks of aging, progeria syndromes, and common age-associated diseases such as neurodegeneration and cancer. We describe how the intimate link of telomeres and aging mechanisms informs the development of anti-aging and disease preventive strategies.
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Telomeres – History, Health and Hallmarks of Aging