Accelerated bio-cognitive aging in Down syndrome: State of the art and possible deceleration strategies

Claudio Franceschi, Paolo Garagnani, Noémie Gensous, Maria Giulia Bacalini, Maria Conte, Stefano Salvioli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Down syndrome (DS) has been proposed by George Martin as a segmental progeroid syndrome since 1978. In fact, DS persons suffer from several age-associated disorders much earlier than euploid persons. Furthermore, a series of recent studies have found that DS persons display elevated levels of age biomarkers, thus supporting the notion that DS is a progeroid trait. Nowadays, due to the progressive advancements in social inclusion processes and medical assistance, DS persons live much longer than in the past; therefore, the early-onset health problems of these persons are becoming an urgent and largely unmet social and medical burden. In particular, the most important ailment of DS persons is the accelerated cognitive decline that starts when they reach about 40 years of age. This decline can be at least in part counteracted by multi-systemic approaches including early-onset cognitive training, physical activity, and psychosocial assistance. However, no pharmacological treatment is approved to counteract this decline. According to the most advanced conceptualization of Geroscience, tackling the molecular mechanisms underpinning the aging process should be a smart/feasible strategy to combat and/or delay the great majority of age-related diseases, including cognitive decline. We think that a debate is needed urgently on if (and how) this strategy could be integrated in protocols to face DS-associated dementia and overall unhealthy aging. In particular we propose that, on the basis of data obtained in different clinical settings, metformin is a promising candidate that could be exploited to counteract cognitive decline in DS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12903
JournalAging Cell
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • accelerated aging
  • anti-aging strategies
  • cognitive impairment
  • Down syndrome
  • metformin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Cell Biology

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