The hoverfly and the wasp: a critique of the hallmarks of aging as a paradigm

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With the goal of representing common denominators of aging in different organisms López-Otín et al. in 2013 described nine hallmarks of aging. Since then, this representation has become a major reference point for the biogerontology field. The template for the hallmarks of aging account originated from landmark papers by Hanahan and Weinberg (2000, 2011) defining first six and later ten hallmarks of cancer. Here we assess the strengths and weaknesses of the hallmarks of aging account. As a checklist of diverse major foci of current aging research, it has provided a useful shared overview for biogerontology during a time of transition in the field. It also seems useful in applied biogerontology, to identify interventions (e.g. drugs) that impact multiple symptomatic features of aging. However, while the hallmarks of cancer provide a paradigmatic account of the causes of cancer with profound explanatory power, the hallmarks of aging do not. A worry is that as a non-paradigm the hallmarks of aging have obscured the urgent need to define a genuine paradigm, one that can provide a useful basis for understanding the mechanistic causes of the diverse aging pathologies. We argue that biogerontology must look and move beyond the hallmarks to understand the process of aging.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101407
Number of pages9
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Early online date13 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Aging
  • Geroscience
  • Hallmarks
  • Paradigm
  • Senescence
  • Theory


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