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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Plenary Lecture at EADV Spring Symposium: Can We Prevent Ageing?

22 June 2017

Professor Chris Griffiths recently gave a plenary lecture at the EADV (European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology) Spring Symposium, entitled “Can We Prevent Ageing” this concerned skin and ageing in general.

There are three learning objectives:

  • (i) Appreciate that skin ageing is a function of intrinsic (chronologic) ageing and extrinsic factors including sunlight, pollution and other environmental stressors
  • (ii) Understand the role that diet and pharmacological interventions may play in prolonging life.
  • (iii) Learn about the associations between features of cutaneous ageing and lifespan.

Despite the increase in average age span – approximately 25% of the population of the developed world will be over the age of 60 years by 2020 -there is a drive to enhance longevity and healthy lifespan. For dermatologists the prevention of ageing amounts to amelioration of the clinical features of cutaneous ageing and maintenance of skin function and/or prolonging lifespan. The majority of the changes in the appearance of human skin in the aged, including wrinkles and lentigines, are a consequence of external stressors particularly ultraviolet radiation but stress, pollution and lack of sleep also contribute. Thus, prevention of these changes can be facilitated in part by sunscreen, lifestyle management, and topical retinoids. Emerging evidence links enhanced perceived age with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a reduced lifespan. Interventions that have been shown to enhance mean lifespan include caloric restriction, intermittent fasting, endurance exercise (all of which promote autophagy) rapamycin (which inhibits senescence associated secretory pathways) and metformin although their effects on skin ageing are as yet largely unknown.

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