A new study has found that certain clusters of genes help mice live longer.
Scientists have long known that diet and lifestyle choices can impact lifespan, but the new study suggests that genetics may also play a role.
The study, published in the journal Nature, found that certain clusters of genes are associated with longevity in mice.
For the study, researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 1,000 mice and looked for genetic variations that were associated with longevity.
They found that certain clusters of genes were consistently associated with longer lifespans.
“Our results show that genes involved in nutrient sensing, energy metabolism, and stress response are critical for determining lifespan,” lead author Ting-Hsuan (Kristen) Chen said in a statement.
The findings could have implications for understanding how to extend human lifespan.
“Although we cannot directly apply these findings to humans, they provide insights into the complex genetics of longevity and may help us identify new targets for developing interventions to promote healthy aging,” Chen said.
Some genes just don’t like to age.
In a new study, scientists found that by tweaking the activity of three such genes—which naturally decline with age—they could increase the lifespan of mice by 24 percent.
The findings, published in the journal Science, could one day lead to treatments for age-related diseases in humans.
“The really surprising thing is that just by targeting these three genes, we see such a dramatic effect on lifespan and healthspan,” said study senior author Lei Lisa Zhang, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Southern California.
“This suggests there might be similar pathways in other species, including humans, that could be targeted to achieve a healthier aging process.”
Aging is a complex process with many contributing factors, including changes in gene activity. To identify genes that influence aging, Zhang and her team looked for clusters of genes that naturally decline in activity with age.
The researchers found three such gene clusters—which they call “gerontogees”—in the liver, fat, and muscles of mice.
When the team artificially increased the activity of these genes in older mice, the animals not only lived longer, but also enjoyed better health.
specifically, the treated mice had improved liver function, better insulin sensitivity, and less inflammation.
While the findings are preliminary, they suggest that it may one day be possible to develop drugs that target these gene clusters to treat age-related diseases in humans.
“This is an early study, but it opens up the tantalizing possibility that we could use these genes as targets for developing therapeutics to treat age-related diseases,” said study co-author Vera Gorbunova, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester.