Gender, aging and longevity in humans

Two older couples

Excerpt

Data showing a remarkable gender difference in life expectancy and mortality, including survival to extreme age, are reviewed starting from clinical and demographic data and stressing the importance of a comprehensive historical perspective and a gene–environment/lifestyle interaction. Gender difference regarding prevalence and incidence of the most important age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, disability, autoimmunity and infections, are reviewed and updated with particular attention to the role of the immune system and immunosenescence.

On the whole, gender differences appear to be pervasive and still poorly considered and investigated despite their biomedical relevance. The basic biological mechanisms responsible for gender differences in aging and longevity are quite complex and still poorly understood. This review focuses on centenarians and their offspring as a model of healthy aging and summarizes available knowledge on three basic biological phenomena, i.e. age-related X chromosome inactivation skewing, gut microbiome changes and maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA genetic variants.

In conclusion, an appropriate gender-specific medicine approach is urgently needed and should be systematically pursued in studies on healthy aging, longevity and age-related diseases, in a globalized world characterized by great gender differences which have a high impact on health and diseases.

FULL TEXT: Clinical Science

Abstract

The coupling of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) breakdown and protein deacylation is a unique feature of the family of proteins called ‘sirtuins.’ This intimate connection between NAD+ and sirtuins has an ancient origin and provides a mechanistic foundation that translates the regulation of energy metabolism into aging and longevity control in diverse organisms.

Although the field of sirtuin research went through intensive controversies, an increasing number of recent studies have put those controversies to rest and fully established the significance of sirtuins as an evolutionarily conserved aging/longevity regulator. The tight connection between NAD+ and sirtuins is regulated at several different levels, adding further complexity to their coordination in metabolic and aging/longevity control.

Interestingly, it has been demonstrated that NAD+ availability decreases over age, reducing sirtuin activities and affecting the communication between the nucleus and mitochondria at a cellular level and also between the hypothalamus and adipose tissue at a systemic level. These dynamic cellular and systemic processes likely contribute to the development of age-associated functional decline and the pathogenesis of diseases of aging.

To mitigate these age-associated problems, supplementation of key NAD+ intermediates is currently drawing significant attention. In this review article, we will summarize these important aspects of the intimate connection between NAD+ and sirtuins in aging/longevity control.