The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) is well recognized as a critical regulator of redox, metabolic, and protein homeostasis, as well as the regulation of inflammation. An age-associated decline in NRF2 activity may allow oxidative stress to remain unmitigated and affect key features associated with the aging phenotype, including telomere shortening. Telomeres, the protective caps of eukaryotic chromosomes, are highly susceptible to oxidative DNA damage, which can accelerate telomere shortening and, consequently, lead to premature senescence and genomic instability. In this review, we explore how the dysregulation of NRF2, coupled with an increase in oxidative stress, might be a major determinant of telomere shortening and age-related diseases. We discuss the relevance of the connection between NRF2 deficiency in aging and telomere attrition, emphasizing the importance of studying this functional link to enhance our understanding of aging pathologies. Finally, we present a number of compounds that possess the ability to restore NRF2 function, maintain a proper redox balance, and preserve telomere length during aging.
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