Aging is a complex process that results in loss of the ability to reattain homeostasis following stress, leading, thereby, to increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Many factors contribute to aging, such as the time-dependent accumulation of macromolecular damage, including DNA damage. The integrity of the nuclear genome is essential for cellular, tissue, and organismal health. DNA damage is a constant threat because nucleic acids are chemically unstable under physiological conditions and vulnerable to attack by endogenous and environmental factors. To combat this, all organisms possess highly conserved mechanisms to detect and repair DNA damage. Persistent DNA damage (genotoxic stress) triggers signaling cascades that drive cells into apoptosis or senescence to avoid replicating a damaged genome. The drawback is that these cancer avoidance mechanisms promote aging. Here, we review evidence that DNA damage plays a causal role in aging. We also provide evidence that genotoxic stress is linked to other cellular processes implicated as drivers of aging, including mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction, altered proteostasis and inflammation. These links between damage to the genetic code and other pillars of aging support the notion that DNA damage could be the root of aging.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grants P01 AG043376, U01 ES029603, R56 AG059676, R01 AG063543, and U19 AG056278. MJY was supported by the Irene Diamond Fund/American Federation for Aging Research Postdoctoral Transition Award. National Institutes of Health P01 AG043376 Paul Robbins Laura Niedernhofer National Institutes of Health U01 ES029603 Laura Niedernhofer National Institutes of Health R56 AG059676 Laura Niedernhofer National Institutes of Health R01 AG063543 Paul Robbins Laura Niedernhofer American Federation for Aging Research Irene Diamond Fund/ American Federation for Aging Research Postdoctoral Transition Award Matt Yousefzadeh National Institutes of Health U19 AG056278 Paul Robbins Laura Niedernhofer The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
We thank Mariah Witt for helpful comments. This work was supported by NIH grants P01 AG043376, U01 ES029603, R56 AG059676, R01 AG063543, and U19 AG056278. MJY was supported by the Irene Diamond Fund/American Federation for Aging Research Postdoctoral Transition Award.
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