The 7 mammalian sirtuin proteins compose a protective cavalry of enzymes that can be invoked by cells to aid in the defense against a vast array of stressors. The pathologies associated with aging, such as metabolic syndrome, neurodegeneration, and cancer, are either caused by or exacerbated by a lifetime of chronic stress. As such, the activation of sirtuin proteins could provide a therapeutic approach to buffer against chronic stress and ameliorate age-related decline. Here we review experimental evidence both for and against this proposal, as well as the implications that isoform-specific sirtuin activation may have for healthy aging in humans.
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