Systems biology of aging
Book chapter, 2017
Mathematical modeling has emerged as a powerful descriptive and predictive tool to analyze complex biological systems. It is deeply embedded in the systems biology cycle, providing the means to deliver predictive quantitative models. Aging is a highly complex, irreversible process that arises from interactions of many different components. It is characterized by the accumulation of harmful molecules that damage the cell over the course of time coupled with progressive functional decline, inevitably culminating in death. This underpins the universal hallmark of aging - the accumulation and segregation of aging factors. Integrating mathematical modeling and experimental work may prove to be a powerful way to address certain evolutionary questions that might have profound implications for the whole study of aging.This systems biology approach may reveal the underlying mechanisms that cause the functions of the cell to deteriorate over the course of time and predict optimal division strategies that will lead to increased fitness and prolonged lifespan. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the biology of the aging process including several aging theories and the current state of mathematical models in aging research, together with a case study illustrating damage accumulation theory.