DNA damage in aging, the stem cell perspective

Taylor McNeely, Michael Leone, Hagai Yanai, Isabel Beerman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


DNA damage is one of the most consistent cellular process proposed to contribute to aging. The maintenance of genomic and epigenomic integrity is critical for proper function of cells and tissues throughout life, and this homeostasis is under constant strain from both extrinsic and intrinsic insults. Considering the relationship between lifespan and genotoxic burden, it is plausible that the longest-lived cellular populations would face an accumulation of DNA damage over time. Tissue-specific stem cells are multipotent populations residing in localized niches and are responsible for maintaining all lineages of their resident tissue/system throughout life. However, many of these stem cells are impacted by genotoxic stress. Several factors may dictate the specific stem cell population response to DNA damage, including the niche location, life history, and fate decisions after damage accrual. This leads to differential handling of DNA damage in different stem cell compartments. Given the importance of adult stem cells in preserving normal tissue function during an individual’s lifetime, DNA damage sensitivity and accumulation in these compartments could have crucial implications for aging. Despite this, more support for direct functional effects driven by accumulated DNA damage in adult stem cell compartments is needed. This review will present current evidence for the accumulation and potential influence of DNA damage in adult tissue-specific stem cells and propose inquiry directions that could benefit individual healthspan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-331
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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