- Interuniversity Institute of Miology (IIM), Chieti, Italy; A&C M-C Foundation for Translational Myology, Padova, Italy; Free University of Alcatraz, Santa Cristina di Gubbio, Perugia, ItalyInterests: skeletal muscle physiology; human skeletal muscle senescence; adaptive responses to hypoxia and microgravity; growth factors and transcription factors in excitable cells; oxidative stress; brain physiology: cognitive aspects
- Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Pescara, Abruzzi, Italy; Interuniversity Institute of Miology (IIM), Chieti, ItalyInterests: human satellite cells; skeletal muscle; aging; microRNAs; sarcopenia; oxidative stress; tissue regeneration
The progressive decline in physiological function that occurs with ageing causes various limitations (e.g. reduced mobility, impaired cognitive abilities) and increases the risk of chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and cancer, resulting in disability and increased mortality. Consequently, the preservation of physiological functions during ageing is essential to extending the period of good health and thus achieving a serene lifespan, i.e. living longer in an acceptable state of well-being.
In response to this pressing social demand, a new discipline called "Geroscience" was recently started. This field aims to study the mechanisms that underlie the "reconditioning" of physiological processes as a function of age. In short, Geroscience seeks to understand the biological mechanisms acting at the genetic, molecular and cellular levels that make ageing a major risk factor for chronic diseases in older adults. The goal is to target the ageing process as the single most important risk factor, rather than treating only a specific cause. The ultimate aim of this new approach is to enable people to live for a long time while in an uncompromised state of health.
Scientific research has identified a number of mechanisms that underlie a healthy lifespan, i.e. those relating to the status of fundamental biological processes during ageing. These include oxidative stress, chronic low-grade inflammation ('inflammageing'), altered cellular senescence (genomic instability, telomere attrition, role of transposomes), mitochondrial dysfunction resulting in dysregulation of cellular energy production, altered proteostasis (folding, autophagy, etc.), the crisis in stem cell bioavailability, as well as epigenetic changes caused by lifestyle, diet and physical activity.
The emergence of a major epidemiological event characterised by an altered immune response (COVID-19) and leading to millions of deaths (especially in the elderly) has paradoxically provided a model in which to study the mechanisms that underlie healthy longevity.
Not all older adults appear to be equally vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. So-called frail carriers of a syndrome are characterised by a much greater vulnerability to adverse disease outcomes. The frail elderly, especially those with comorbidities (e.g. hypertension, obesity, diabetes) are at higher risk of death from infection than younger adults. Translational studies aimed at understanding the links between biological mechanisms of ageing and the cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease could help to protect the frail and ultimately lead to prolongation of a healthy lifespan in the elderly population.
The goal of this Special Issue is therefore to highlight the common pathways that make the axiom of Geroscience plausible, i.e. to find common determinants (cellular, genetic, molecular) between the biological mechanisms of ageing and those of diseases and body functions in order to promote effective strategies for prolonging a healthy lifespan and reducing the period of age-related diseases.
Prof. Giorgio Fanò-Illic and Dr. Ester Sara Di Filippo
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