Longevity medicine is an exciting and rapidly advancing field that aims to extend healthy human lifespan. However, the sheer volume of scientific terms and jargon used in longevity research can be overwhelming, especially for those who are new to the field. In this comprehensive glossary, I’ll briefly explain some of the most commonly used terms in longevity medicine. These definitions are intentionally kept concise for simplicity and easy reference, but they will provide a solid foundation for understanding the language of longevity medicine. If you’re interested in longevity, this glossary will give you a quick and simple reference to help you understand the language of longevity medicine and stay up to date on the latest research.
Table of Contents
Longevity medicine glossary
It’s important to note that many of the terms in the field of longevity medicine are derived from common roots, which can help provide context and aid in understanding. For example, “gero-” refers to old age, and “proteo-” refers to proteins. Additionally, many terms in longevity medicine are compound words that combine different roots, such as “geroprotectors” (protective substances against aging), “proteostasis” (the maintenance of protein balance), and “senolytics” (compounds that selectively eliminate senescent cells).
Understanding these common roots and compound words can help make the language of longevity medicine more approachable and accessible, even for those who are new to the field.
Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs)
Advanced glycation end products are proteins or lipids becoming glycated after exposure to sugar molecules. AGEs increase oxidative stress and inflammation, and they are implicated in many degenerative processes, playing a role in aging and disease development.
Ageism is the discrimination of individuals or groups of people based on their age. It includes also having stereotypes and prejudice towards others based on age.
Also known as 5’ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, AMPK is an enzyme that regulates cellular energy metabolism and that like a sensor is activated when energy levels are low triggering other pathways that ultimately lead to longer, healthier lives.
Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death or “cellular suicide. Apoptosis generally happens when a cell is too old and worn out, damaged beyond repair, and is used both to get rid of a dysfunctional cell and make space for a new healthy one, and to prevent the dysfunctional cell from turning cancerous.
Autophagy is the process of degrading and recycling cellular components. It can be triggered by calorie restriction and when exploited in longevity research it leads to extended lifespan.
Biogerontology is the study of the biology of the aging process
Biohorology is the science that measures the passage of time in living systems. In biohorology, age is determined by analyzing biomarkers which provide an indication on the biological age, rather than counting time as in chronological age.
Biological age is a measure of age based on biomarkers rather than time. It can be influenced by lifestyle choices and medical interventions and it reflects healthspan more accurately than chronological age.
A biomarker, or biological marker, is a measurable indicator in living systems. It can be any substance, structure or process that can be measured in the body and that is used to monitor or predict health and disease states, the response to medical interventions.
Caloric Restriction (CR)
Calorie restriction is the reduction of the daily caloric intake through diet without resulting in any nutritional deficiency or in malnutritrion. CR is being studied in longevity medicine for its many benefits that lead to increased healthspan and lifespan.
Calorie restriction mimetics (CRM)
Calorie restriction mimetics is a recent concept in longevity medicine and refers to biologically active substances, like supplements, peptides or medications, that mimic the effects of calorie restriction in the organism.
A chromosome is a long, coiled-up molecule of DNA that carries genes, which are the units of heredity. Chromosomes are located in the nucleus of a cell and they play a crucial role in cell division and replication, as well as determining an individual’s inherited traits.
Chronological age refers to a person’s age in terms of the number of years they have been alive since birth. It is a measure of time, and is often used as a basis for comparing individuals in various studies or analyses.
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a powerful gene-editing technology that allows for precise editing of DNA sequences. It works by using RNA molecules that can bind to specific DNA sequences, guiding an enzyme to make targeted changes to the genome. It has revolutionized the field of gene therapy, and has the potential to cure many genetic diseases.
Deep Aging Clock
A deep aging clock is a type of algorithm that uses machine learning techniques to analyze large sets of biological data in order to predict an individual’s biological age. It incorporates a wide range of biomarkers, including epigenetic markers, gene expression patterns, and other biological signals. Deep aging clocks have the potential to revolutionize aging research by providing a more accurate and personalized measure of aging.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule that carries genetic information in all living organisms. It consists of a long sequence of nucleotides, which are the building blocks of DNA. The sequence of nucleotides determines the genetic code of an organism, including its inherited traits and susceptibility to disease.
DNA breaks are a type of genetic damage that occur when the DNA strands in a double helix are broken or damaged. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to radiation, chemicals, or other environmental factors.
DNA Methylation Clock
The DNA methylation clock is a type of biomarker that measures changes in DNA methylation patterns over time. Methylation is a chemical modification of DNA that can affect gene expression, and changes in methylation patterns have been linked to aging and disease. The DNA methylation clock is a powerful tool for measuring biological age, and has been shown to be highly accurate in predicting mortality risk.
DNA repair is a cellular process that corrects genetic damage to DNA molecules. It is a critical mechanism for maintaining the integrity of the genome, and defects in DNA repair can lead to mutations and increased risk of cancer and other diseases.
The epigenetic clock is a type of biomarker that measures changes in epigenetic markers over time. Epigenetic markers are chemical modifications of DNA that can affect gene expression, and changes in these markers have been linked to aging and disease. The epigenetic clock is a powerful tool for measuring biological age, and has been shown to be highly accurate in predicting mortality risk.
Epigenetic damage refers to changes in the structure of DNA that do not involve changes to the underlying sequence of nucleotides, but instead affect how genes are expressed.
Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression that are not caused by changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic modifications can be passed down from one generation to the next, and they can be influenced by environmental factors such as diet, stress, and exposure to toxins. Epigenetics plays a critical role in development, aging, and disease, and has important implications for personalized medicine and public health.
The epigenome consists of chemical modifications to DNA and its associated proteins that affect gene expression without altering the underlying genetic code. These modifications can be influenced by environmental factors and may be involved in age-related changes in gene expression and cellular function.
Frailty is a medical condition characterized by decreased physical and cognitive function, increased vulnerability to stressors, and a higher risk of adverse health outcomes. Frailty is often associated with aging, but can also result from chronic disease, disability, or other factors.
A gene is a sequence of DNA that encodes the instructions for the production of a specific protein or functional RNA molecule. Genes are the basic unit of heredity and are responsible for the traits and characteristics of organisms.
The genome is the complete set of DNA in an organism, including all of its genes and non-coding regions. The human genome contains approximately 20,000-25,000 protein-coding genes, as well as regulatory sequences and other functional elements.
The genotype is the genetic makeup of an individual, including all of its inherited alleles or versions of genes. The genotype interacts with environmental factors to determine an organism’s phenotype or observable characteristics.
Geriatrics is the branch of medicine that focuses on the care and treatment of older adults. Geriatricians may address a wide range of health issues associated with aging, including chronic disease management, functional decline, and cognitive impairment.
Gerontology is the study of aging and its associated processes. Gerontologists may explore the biological, psychological, and social aspects of aging, as well as interventions that may promote healthy aging and longevity.
The gerontome is a comprehensive catalog of genes and other factors that are involved in aging and age-related diseases. The gerontome can provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of aging and may be used to identify potential therapeutic targets.
Geroprotectors are compounds or interventions that have been shown to extend lifespan or delay age-related decline in animal models. Geroprotectors may act through a variety of mechanisms, such as reducing oxidative stress, enhancing cellular repair mechanisms, or modulating gene expression. Some geroprotectors, such as metformin, are already approved for use in humans for other medical conditions.
An interdisciplinary field that studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases. Its goal is to understand the underlying biological processes of aging and to develop new therapies that can promote healthy aging and prevent or treat age-related diseases.
A branch of medicine that focuses on the development of therapeutic interventions to prevent or treat age-related diseases. Its goal is to develop drugs or other interventions that can slow down the aging process and extend healthspan.
A process in which sugar molecules bind to proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids, forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This process can damage cells and tissues and has been implicated in aging and age-related diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease.
The number of times a cell can divide before it reaches senescence, a state in which the cell is no longer able to divide. The limit is named after Leonard Hayflick, who discovered that normal human cells have a limited capacity for division in culture.
The period of life during which a person is generally healthy, free from chronic diseases, and able to function independently. It is an important aspect of aging and is considered a better measure of successful aging than lifespan alone.
The ability of an organism or cell to maintain a stable internal environment despite external fluctuations. It is essential for survival and is disrupted during aging and age-related diseases.
A biological phenomenon in which exposure to low doses of a stressor (such as radiation, heat, or toxins) can have a beneficial effect on an organism’s health and longevity. It is thought to work by activating cellular stress response pathways, which can enhance cellular repair and maintenance mechanisms.
The decline in immune function that occurs with age. It is characterized by a decrease in the diversity and effectiveness of immune cells and is thought to contribute to the increased susceptibility to infections and cancer seen in older adults.
A treatment approach that uses a patient’s immune system to fight diseases, including cancer. This involves modifying or enhancing the immune response to recognize and attack cancer cells specifically.
Chronic inflammation that occurs as part of the aging process and contributes to age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.
A natural immune system response to injury or infection, characterized by redness, swelling, heat, pain and loss of function.
Induced pluripotent stem cells, a type of stem cell that is generated by reprogramming mature cells (such as skin cells) back into an embryonic-like state, with the ability to differentiate into various cell types.
The length of time an organism lives.
Longevity Escape Velocity
A hypothetical point where medical advances and interventions extend life faster than the aging process can catch up, potentially leading to indefinite lifespan.
An approach to healthcare that aims to extend healthy lifespan, prevent or delay age-related diseases, and enhance overall well-being through various interventions and therapies.
A membrane-bound organelle within cells that contains enzymes that break down various molecules and cellular waste products.
The complete set of metabolites (small molecules involved in metabolism) within a biological system, including all pathways and interactions.
The study of the metabolome, including the identification and quantification of metabolites, as well as their changes in response to environmental factors or disease states.
A process that adds a methyl group to DNA, which can change the gene’s activity without altering its sequence. Methylation plays a crucial role in gene expression and regulation and is influenced by environmental factors.
The collection of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that live on and inside the human body. The microbiome plays a vital role in human health and is linked to many diseases and conditions.
The powerhouses of the cell that generate energy for cellular activities. Mitochondria play a crucial role in cellular metabolism, and their dysfunction is associated with various age-related diseases.
A process by which damaged or dysfunctional mitochondria are removed from the cell through autophagy. Mitophagy plays a vital role in maintaining mitochondrial health and cellular homeostasis.
A protein that regulates cellular metabolism, growth, and survival. mTOR plays a crucial role in the aging process and is a target for many anti-aging interventions.
A cell that can differentiate into several different cell types but is more limited than pluripotent cells.
A molecule involved in many cellular processes, including energy metabolism and DNA repair. NAD+ levels decline with age and are linked to many age-related diseases.
The building blocks of DNA and RNA that carry genetic information. Nucleotides are essential for DNA replication and protein synthesis and play a crucial role in cellular function.
A gene that has the potential to cause cancer when mutated or overexpressed. Oncogenes play a crucial role in tumor formation and are the targets of many cancer therapies.
A condition in which there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to neutralize them. Oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the aging process and is linked to many age-related diseases.
A medical approach that tailors treatment to an individual’s specific needs, based on their genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Personalized medicine aims to improve treatment outcomes and reduce adverse effects.
The observable characteristics of an organism, including physical traits, behavior, and disease susceptibility. Phenotypes are influenced by genetic and environmental factors and play a crucial role in human health and disease.
A type of stem cell that has the ability to differentiate into any cell type in the body. These cells have great potential for use in regenerative medicine and research.
Polygenic Risk Scores (PRS)
A score that estimates an individual’s risk of developing a disease or condition based on multiple genetic variants. PRS takes into account the collective effect of many genetic variants that each contribute a small amount to the overall risk.
An approach to medical treatment that takes into account an individual’s genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors to tailor a personalized treatment plan.
A large biomolecule composed of chains of amino acids that perform various functions in the body, including structural support, enzymatic activity, and signaling.
The entire set of proteins expressed by a cell, tissue, or organism.
The maintenance of protein homeostasis or balance in the cell, including proper folding, assembly, and degradation of proteins.
A drug that has been shown to extend lifespan and delay age-related diseases in multiple organisms, including mice and yeast. It works by inhibiting the mTOR pathway.
An imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the antioxidant defense system, leading to cellular damage due to an excess of antioxidants (aka reducing equivalents). It’s the counterpart to oxidative stress.
An interdisciplinary field that aims to develop new therapies to replace, repair, or regenerate damaged or diseased tissues and organs.
A natural compound found in red grapes, berries, and peanuts that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. It has also been studied for its potential to extend lifespan and delay age-related diseases. It works by activating the sirtuins.
RNA (ribonucleic acid) is a molecule involved in protein synthesis and gene expression, and plays an important role in many biological processes. It is transcribed from DNA and can be classified into several types, including messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and ribosomal RNA (rRNA).
Secretome refers to the entire set of proteins secreted by a cell or tissue, which includes growth factors, cytokines, and other signaling molecules. These proteins can have important roles in intercellular communication, tissue repair, and disease progression.
Senescence is a process in which cells stop dividing and enter a state of irreversible growth arrest. It is a natural mechanism that helps prevent the growth of damaged or potentially cancerous cells. However, senescent cells can also accumulate over time and contribute to age-related disease.
Senescent cells are cells that have entered a state of irreversible growth arrest, usually as a response to damage or stress. While senescence can be a beneficial mechanism for preventing the growth of potentially cancerous cells, senescent cells can also accumulate over time and cause inflammaging, tissue or organ dysfunctions and ultimately they contribute to the development of age-related diseases.
Senolytics are drugs or compounds that selectively eliminate senescent cells. By clearing these cells, senolytics have the potential to delay or even reverse age-related diseases.
Sirtuins are a family of proteins that play a key role in regulating cellular metabolism and stress response. They are involved in many biological processes, including aging, DNA repair, and inflammation.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the ability to differentiate into various types of specialized cells in the body. They can self-renew and are important for tissue repair and regeneration.
Systems biology is an interdisciplinary field that combines biology, mathematics, and computer science to study complex biological systems at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels. It seeks to understand how different components of a biological system interact with each other to produce emergent properties and behaviors.
A ribonucleoprotein enzyme that adds telomere repeat sequences to the ends of linear chromosomes, which protects the genetic information from being lost during DNA replication. It has been implicated in aging and cancer, as telomerase activity is known to decline with age in most cells except for cancer cells, which can contribute to their immortality.
A process where telomeres, the repetitive DNA sequences at the end of linear chromosomes, shorten with each cell division. This natural aging process ultimately leads to cellular senescence or apoptosis, which contributes to the aging process and the onset of age-related diseases.
The repetitive DNA sequences found at the end of linear chromosomes, which protect the genetic information from being lost during DNA replication. Telomeres shorten with each cell division, contributing to cellular aging and senescence.
A type of stem cell that has the ability to differentiate into any cell type, as well as form a complete organism. These cells are found in the early stages of embryonic development and are important in the process of differentiation and organogenesis.
The complete set of RNA transcripts produced by a cell or tissue, including mRNA, rRNA, tRNA, and other non-coding RNA molecules. The transcriptome reflects the genes that are being actively transcribed and can provide insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie various biological processes.
The application of research findings from basic science to the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics, with the aim of improving human health. This interdisciplinary approach involves the collaboration between basic scientists, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals to bridge the gap between scientific discoveries and clinical practice.
A form of research that aims to translate basic scientific discoveries into practical applications for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. This interdisciplinary field involves the integration of knowledge and techniques from multiple disciplines, including basic science, clinical research, epidemiology, and healthcare delivery.