Background: Aging per se is a risk factor for reduced cardiac function and heart diseases, even when adjusted for aging-associated cardiovascular risk factors. Accordingly, aging-related biochemical and cell-biological changes lead to pathophysiological conditions, especially reduced heart function and heart disease. Objective: In this review, we summarize the changes that occur as the heart ages from youth to old age on the basis of the cardiac myocyte. Aging phenotypes and underlying mechanisms shall be discussed that affect cardiomyocyte repair, signaling, structure, and function. Methods: Review of the literature. Results: The following factors play vital roles in the aging of cardiomyocytes: oxidative stress, inflammation, cellular protection and repair, telomere integrity, survival and death, metabolism, post-translational modifications, and altered gene expression. Importantly, non-cardiomyocyte-based aging processes (vascular, fibroblast, extracellular matrix, etc.) in the heart will interfere with cardiomyocyte aging and cardiac function. Conclusion: Based on our analyses, we postulate that the physiological aging process of the heart and of the cardiomyocyte is primarily driven by intrinsic aging factors. However, extrinsic aging factors, e.g. smoking, also make an important contribution to pathologically accelerated aging of the heart.
© 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel
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PD Dr. David Bernhard
Department of Cardiac Surgery, Innsbruck Medical University
Innrain 66, AT–6020 Innsbruck (Austria)
Tel. +43 512 5042 7815 or 7804, Fax +43 512 5042 7805
Published online: January 15, 2008
Number of Print Pages : 8
Number of Figures : 2, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 45
Gerontology (International Journal of Experimental, Clinical, Behavioural and Technological Gerontology)
Vol. 54, No. 1, Year 2008 (Cover Date: May 2008)
Journal Editor: Meier-Ruge W. (Basel)
ISSN: 0304–324X (Print), eISSN: 1423–0003 (Online)
For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER
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