Elixir of Life: Thwarting Aging With Regenerative Reprogramming

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Abstract

All living beings undergo systemic physiological decline after ontogeny, characterized as aging. Modern medicine has increased the life expectancy, yet this has created an aged society that has more predisposition to degenerative disorders. Therefore, novel interventions that aim to extend the healthspan in parallel to the life span are needed. Regeneration ability of living beings maintains their biological integrity and thus is the major leverage against aging. However, mammalian regeneration capacity is low and further declines during aging. Therefore, modalities that reinforce regeneration can antagonize aging. Recent advances in the field of regenerative medicine have shown that aging is not an irreversible process. Conversion of somatic cells to embryonic-like pluripotent cells demonstrated that the differentiated state and age of a cell is not fixed. Identification of the pluripotency-inducing factors subsequently ignited the idea that cellular features can be reprogrammed by defined factors that specify the desired outcome. The last decade consequently has witnessed a plethora of studies that modify cellular features including the hallmarks of aging in addition to cellular function and identity in a variety of cell types in vitro. Recently, some of these reprogramming strategies have been directly used in animal models in pursuit of rejuvenation and cell replacement. Here, we review these in vivo reprogramming efforts and discuss their potential use to extend the longevity by complementing or augmenting the regenerative capacity.

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