In contrast to the programmed nature of development, it is still a matter of debate whether aging is an adaptive and regulated process, or merely a consequence arising from a stochastic accumulation of harmful events that culminate in a global state of reduced fitness, risk for disease acquisition, and death. Similarly unanswered are the questions of whether aging is reversible and can be turned into rejuvenation as well as how aging is distinguishable from and influenced by cellular senescence. With the discovery of beneficial aspects of cellular senescence and evidence of senescence being not limited to replicative cellular states, a redefinition of our comprehension of aging and senescence appears scientifically overdue. Here, we provide a factor-based comparison of current knowledge on aging and senescence, which we converge on four suggested concepts, thereby implementing the newly emerging cellular and molecular aspects of geroconversion and amitosenescence, and the signatures of a genetic state termed genosenium. We also address the possibility of an aging-associated secretory phenotype in analogy to the well-characterized senescence-associated secretory phenotype and delineate the impact of epigenetic regulation in aging and senescence. Future advances will elucidate the biological and molecular fingerprints intrinsic to either process.
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