Health and Aging: Unifying Concepts, Scores, Biomarkers and Pathways

Georg Fuellen, Ludger Jansen, Alan A Cohen, Walter Luyten, Manfred Gogol, Andreas Simm, Nadine Saul, Francesca Cirulli, Alessandra Berry, Peter Antal, Rüdiger Köhling, Brecht Wouters, Steffen Möller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite increasing research efforts, there is a lack of consensus on defining aging or health. To understand the underlying processes, and to foster the development of targeted interventions towards increasing one's health, there is an urgent need to find a broadly acceptable and useful definition of health, based on a list of (molecular) features; to operationalize features of health so that it can be measured; to identify predictive biomarkers and (molecular) pathways of health; and to suggest interventions, such as nutrition and exercise, targeted at putative causal pathways and processes. Based on a survey of the literature, we propose to define health as a state of an individual characterized by the core features of physiological, cognitive, physical and reproductive function, and a lack of disease. We further define aging as the aggregate of all processes in an individual that reduce its wellbeing, that is, its health or survival or both. We define biomarkers of health by their attribute of predicting future health better than chronological age. We define healthspan pathways as molecular features of health that relate to each other by belonging to the same molecular pathway. Our conceptual framework may integrate diverse operationalizations of health and guide precision prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-900
Number of pages18
JournalAging and Disease
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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