Microarrays have provided researchers with the ability to monitor gene expression changes across tens of thousands of genes in a single experiment. The potential applications of this technology are profound, and there are many cases where global gene expression profiling has been particularly useful, for example, in identifying cell cycle and stress-dependent transcriptional networks and characterizing gene expression signatures associated with different types of human cancers. The application of microarrays to aging-related research was initially received with great enthusiasm. That enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat, as a realization of the technical difficulties and limitations, some of which are specific to aging-related features, has emerged.
When considering the application of microarray technology to an aging-related question, there are several important issues that determine appropriate experimental design, and there are numerous examples in the literature of poorly designed microarray experiments and overinterpretation of microarray data. Recent reviews discuss many of the most important considerations associated with microarrays and provide advice for appropriate ways to deal with them (Hudson et al, 2005; Melov and Hubbard, 2004; Nair et al., 2003). It is highly recommended that anyone considering the use of microarrays in their research program consult these resources and develop a detailed experimental plan prior to initiating experiments.
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