As a key regulator, telomerase plays important roles in aging and tissue renewal and lifespan. It has been demonstrated that telomerase reactivation in adult or old mice can lead to tissue regeneration, delayed aging and significant lifespan extension. Therefore, modulation of telomerase activity in a precise manner has been received much attention. Here we develop a strategy using near infrared (NIR) modulation of telomerase activity based on gold nanocage@smart polymer system. By using this biocompatible design, cell migration, differentiation, cell senescence and cell cycle have been regulated. NIR-induced upregulation of telomerase can even protect cells from neurotoxic amyloid ß induced cell death. This system has been used in vivo by taking advantages of NIR, such as good biocompatibility and tissues penetration. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example for optical modulation of telomerase activity in living cells and tissues. In consideration of the important roles of telomerase in aging, cancer and hereditary disease, our work may inspire further application of multiple NIR-responsive control system for treatment of aging and related diseases.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2017.07.004