The Smurf transition: new insights on ageing from end-of-life studies in animal models

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Purpose of review

Over the past 5 years, many articles were published concerning the prediction of high risk of mortality in apparently healthy adults, echoing the first description in 2011 of the Smurf phenotype, a harbinger of natural death in drosophila.

Recent findings

These recent findings suggest that the end-of-life is molecularly and physiologically highly stereotyped, evolutionarily conserved and predictable.


Taken altogether, these results from independent teams using multiple organisms including humans draw the lines of future directions in ageing research. The ability to identify and study individuals about to die of natural causes with no apparent diseases is a game-changer in this field. In addition, the public health applications are potentially of tremendous impact in our ageing societies and raise important ethical questions.

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