These authors contributed equally to this work.
Liver diseases and aging: friends or foes?
Article first published online: 30 JUL 2013
© 2013 the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Volume 12, Issue 6, pages 950–954, December 2013
How to Cite
Sheedfar, F., Biase, S. D., Koonen, D. and Vinciguerra, M. (2013), Liver diseases and aging: friends or foes?. Aging Cell, 12: 950–954. doi: 10.1111/acel.12128
- Issue published online: 21 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 30 JUL 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 1 JUL 2013 10:01AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 21 JUN 2013
- Graduate School for Drug Exploration (GUIDE)
- University of Groningen
- Center for Translational Molecular Medicine. Grant Number: 01C-104
- Dutch Heart Foundation
- Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation
- Dutch Kidney Foundation
- Italian Ministry of Health. Grant Number: GR-2010-2311017
- insulin/IGF-1 signalling;
- reactive oxygen species;
- mouse models;
The liver is the only internal human organ capable of natural regeneration of lost tissue, as little as 25% of a liver can regenerate into a whole liver. The process of aging predisposes to hepatic functional and structural impairment and metabolic risk. Therefore, understanding how aging could affect the molecular pathology of liver diseases is particularly important, and few studies to date have tackled this complex process. The most common liver disease, affecting one-third of the overall population, is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), characterized by an intrahepatic accumulation of lipids. NAFLD can evolve into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in the presence of oxidative stress and inflammation. NASH is a serious risk factor for disabling and deadly liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Old age seems to favor NAFLD, NASH, and ultimately HCC, in agreement with the inflamm-aging theory, according to which aging accrues inflammation. However, the incidence of HCC drops significantly in the very elderly (individuals aged more than 70) and the relationship between the progression of NAFLD/NASH/HCC and very old age is obscure. In this review, we discuss the literature and we argue that there might be an age window in which the liver becomes resistant to the development of injury; this needs to be studied to understand fully the interaction between age and liver diseases from a therapeutic perspective.