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Aging, longevity and age-related diseases

Our understanding of the biology of aging and longevity has grown tremendously over the past two decades. In addition to manipulating the lifespan and the rate of aging of a number of animal species genetically, by using small molecules or by acting on the environment, the aging field has demonstrated that targeting some of the hallmarks of aging can delay or prevent the development of many diseases or even rejuvenate tissues and organisms. In the mid 2000s, Geroscience was born and with it progressively emerged​ the hope that the modern biology of aging may drive a revolution in human health in the not-so-distant future. On the backdrop of such rapid progress in biology, populations have continued to grow older throughout the world and our societal awareness of the associated challenges for human healthcare and well-being has become more acute.

Ahead of the launch of Nature Aging in January 2021, the editors of the journal have curated an online Collection of recent papers on aging, longevity and age-related diseases published by Nature Research. This Collection reflects the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of the aging field and its numerous ramifications in other fields. Featuring such diversity is one of the aims of Nature Aging. The journal will address aging as a broad theme by publishing primary research articles, reviews and opinion pieces on the biology of aging, but also translational and clinical studies on age-related diseases, and observations and analyses that are relevant for public health and societal issues. The recently published articles gathered in this Collection are a testimony to how much the field has grown and diversified. The editors of Nature Aging look forward to supporting the field on this rising trajectory.

Reviews

Bringing together different strands of genetic research, including results from recent large-scale genome-wide association studies relevant to human ageing, the authors highlight how genetics can further our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of ageing.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Genetics

This Review discusses mechanisms of cellular senescence and approaches to target this pathway therapeutically using ‘senolytic’ drugs or inhibitors of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. In addition, evidence is presented that cellular senescence has a causative role in multiple chronic diseases associated with ageing and/or endocrine diseases.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

The majority of cancers arise in individuals over the age of 60. This Review discusses how ageing tissues through changes in the extracellular matrix as well as in the functions of fibroblasts and immune cells can impact tumour initiation, progression and response to therapy.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Cancer

Animal & human biology

Naked mole rats are the longest-lived rodents and produce very-high-molecular-mass hyaluronan (vHMM-HA). Here the authors show that naked mole rat vHMM-HA is better at protecting mouse and human cells from cell cycle arrest and cell death, compared to the high-molecular-mass hyaluronan produced by these species.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Aging impacts lung functionality and makes it more susceptible to chronic diseases. Combining proteomics and single cell transcriptomics, the authors chart molecular and cellular changes in the aging mouse lung, discover aging hallmarks, and predict the cellular sources of regulated proteins.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Aging & disease

Senolytic compounds have the ability to eliminate senescent cells from tissues and have been shown to be beneficial in various animal models of age-related diseases. Here the authors show that cardiac glycosides commonly used for heart diseases have senolytic properties in humanized mouse models of tumorigenesis and lung fibrosis.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

In addition to having direct anti-cancer effects, the cardiac glycoside ouabain is shown to kill a broad range of senescent cells, thus suggesting that cardiac glycosides represent a novel class of senolytics.

Article | | Nature Metabolism

Genome-wide association analyses identify 301 new loci influencing bone mineral density and 13 loci influencing fracture risk. Integrative analyses of epigenomic data and mouse knockout phenotypes provide additional insights into osteoporosis pathophysiology.

Article | | Nature Genetics

It is unclear if neuromelanin plays a role in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis since common laboratory animals lack this pigment. Authors show here that overexpression of human tyrosinase in the substantia nigra of rats resulted in an age-dependent production of human-like neuromelanin within nigral dopaminergic neurons and is associated with a Parkinson’s disease phenotype when allowed to accumulate above a specific threshold.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Supercentenarians are approaching the current longevity limit by avoiding or surviving major illness, thus identifying biomarkers for exceptional survival might provide insights into the protection against disease of aging. Here, the authors show low NT-proBNP and high albumin in plasma are the biological correlates of survival to the highest ages.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications