Teaching plan for the course unit



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General information


Course unit name: Ageing and Senescence

Course unit code: 573117

Academic year: 2021-2022

Coordinator: Joan Villarroya Terrade

Department: Secretary's Office for Students and Teaching Staff at Medicine and Health Sciences (Clínic)

Credits: 3

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 75


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Lecture

Face-to-face and online




-  Lecture with practical component

Face-to-face and online




-  Group tutorial

Face-to-face and online




-  Seminar

Face-to-face and online



Supervised project


Independent learning




Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge

For the last century, one of the most important achievements of humankind has been the huge increase in life expectancy. Thus, the percentage of people older than 65 has considerably increased in societies of the industrialised world. This creates a strong social pressure to improve the understanding of the process of ageing and the diseases associated with this biological phenomenon.

In this context, the aim of this course is that students learn about ageing in an active way, that is, by making and answering questions and participating in discussions. Students are expected to show interest in the subject so as to promote work focused on ageing.



Teaching blocks


1. Programme

*  Unit 1 - Ageing: an introduction
A general view of ageing; Ageing and human longevity; Theories on ageing; Genetic factors and environmental factors; Ageing and associated diseases; The endocrine system and ageing.

Unit 2 - Metabolic control of longevity

Biological basis of healthy ageing; Physical activity promotes healthy ageing; Nutrient-uptake pathways and ageing; Role of AMPK and mTOR.

Unit 3 - Autophagy

Autophagy and its molecular machinery; The role of autophagy; Regulation of autophagy; Autophagy and ageing.

Unit - 4 Stress and ageing

The stress response; Stress and the ageing process.

Unit 5 - Cellular senescence and cell death

Cellular senescence; Replicative senescence; Shortening of telomeres; Senescent phenotype; Programmed cell death; Consequences of cellular senescence and cell death; Relationship between ageing and cancer.

Unit 6 - Genetics and ageing

Genetic bases of progeroid syndromes; Progeria, nuclear lamina and mechanisms for DNA maintenance; Genetics of longevity; Sequencing of centenarian genomes; Epigenetics and ageing phenotype.

Unit 7 - Oxidative stress and neurodegeneration

Oxidants and antioxidants in cells and organelles; Molecular consequences of oxidative stress: damage and repair; Oxidative stress and ageing; Oxidant and antioxidant mechanism in the ageing brain; Epigenetic mechanism of ageing; Epigenetics and neurodegeneration; Neurodegenerative diseases.

Unit 8 - Immunosenescence

The immune system; Ageing and inflammatory response; Immunosenescence: clinical implications and therapeutic strategies.



Teaching methods and general organization


The course has 34 hours of face-to-face sessions distributed as follows:

— 22 hours of interactive classes;

— 6 hours where students present and discuss a group assignment on ageing;

— 6 hours of tutorials sessions.



Official assessment of learning outcomes


Students are assessed on the following activities:

— Oral presentation (group assignment): 40% of the final grade.

The oral presentation is the result of the collective work of a group (two to four students). Each student should enter a specific group in the Virtual Campus.

Students should read one or two articles, prepare the oral presentation (15-minute length) in group and the subsequent discussion to answer the other students’ questions.

— Written commentary of 2-4 pages (individual work): 40% of the final grade.

In the written commentary, all students must write a general comment of 2-4 pages about the group assignment previously prepared. It is very important to draw comparisons with the general content of the course. It should also include a general comment on the course as a means for the teaching staff to evaluate the course’s success and future contents: Is it necessary to improve? What aspect in particular?

— Forum comments: 20% of the final grade.

All students must participate in the forum (debating on ageing from a biological/molecular point of view) at least once, but no more than five times.

Forum 1: Do you think that we are biologically programmed to die?

Forum 2: Is hormone replacement therapy a good anti-ageing treatment?

Forum 3: Why do women live longer than men?

Forum 4: Is the activation of telomerase a cure for ageing?

Forum 5: What strategies would you propose to delay/cure ageing?

Forum 6: What information will provide centenarian genome sequencing?



Reading and study resources

Consulteu la disponibilitat a CERCABIB


Arking R. Biology of Aging: Observations and Principles, 3rd Ed. Oxford Univ Press, Oxford (UK), 2006 

Armesto, F. i Armesto, C. L’enigma de l’esfinx. Ed. Bromera, 2000

Everitt, A.V., Rattan, S.I.S., Le Couteur, D.G. and de Cabo, R.  Calorie Restriction, Aging and Longevity, Springer, 2010

Marfany, G. i  Soley, M. Per què envellim? La resposta de la ciència a una vella preocupació humana. Col·lecció Catàlisi (10), Publicacions i Edicions, Universitat de Barcelona, 2011

Mobbs, C.V. and Hof, P.R. Interdisciplinary Topics in Gerontology, Vol 37 Body Composition and Aging, Karger, 2010

Masoro E.J. i Austad S.N. (eds.) Handbook of the Biology of Aging, 6th Ed. Academic Press, Burllington (USA), 2006

Medina J.J. El reloj de la edad.  Ed. Crítica, 1997

Mobbs, C.V. and Hof, P.R. Body Composition and Aging, Interdisciplinary Topics in Gerontology, Vol 37, Karger, 2010

Park, S.Ch., Hwang, E.S., Kim, H-S. and Park, W-Y. Healthy Aging for Functional Longevity. Molecular and Cellular Interactions in Senescence, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 928, 2001

Timiras, P.S. Physiological basis of aging and geriatrics. 4th Ed. Informa. Healthcare USA, 2007