, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 693–709 | Cite as

Keeping up with the Red Queen: the pace of aging as an adaptation

  • Peter LenartEmail author
  • Julie Bienertová-Vašků
Opinion Article


For decades, a vast majority of biogerontologists assumed that aging is not and cannot be an adaptation. In recent years, however, several authors opposed this predominant view and repeatedly suggested that not only is aging an adaptation but that it is the result of a specific aging program. This issue almost instantaneously became somewhat controversial and many important authors produced substantial works refuting the notion of the aging program. In this article we review the current state of the debate and list the most important arguments proposed by both sides. Furthermore, although classical interpretations of the evolution of aging are in sharp contrast with the idea of programmed aging, we suggest that the truth might in fact very well lie somewhere in between. We also propose our own interpretation which states that although aging is in essence inevitable and results from damage accumulation rather than from a specific program, the actual rate of aging in nature may still be adaptive to some extent.


Aging Evolution Programmed aging Red Queen Pace of aging Aging as an adaptation 



We would like to thank the CETOCOEN PLUS project. This study was also supported by the Rector’s program (MUNI/C/1066/2015) of Masaryk University. The RECETOX research infrastructure was supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (LM2011028).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pathological Physiology, Faculty of MedicineMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment, Faculty of ScienceMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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