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Friday, March 8, 2013
Twenty Percent Life Extension
The surprise here is that there is a biochemical pathway triggered by
a cooler body core. This is what produces the extended lifespan.
Even better, it appears that the pathway is also triggered by wasabi
of all things. That strongly suggests a supplement can be produced
to produce the same result.
A twenty percent improvement is not insignificant and for most it is
the difference between an eighty year life span expectation and a
ninety six year life span expectation. Even better, it can shove the
retirement age expectation from sixty five through to seventy eight.
The inference from this is that it should be a simple supplement
easily made and easily used and perhaps made as a direct supplement
of a food staple. Since we know the pathway, it should be also easy
to track efficiency.
Scientists have known
for nearly a century that cold-blooded animals, such as worms, flies
and fish all live longer in cold environments, but have not known
Researchers at the
University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have identified a
genetic program that promotes longevity of roundworms in cold
environments-and this genetic program also exists in warm-blooded
animals, including humans.
"This raises the
intriguing possibility that exposure to cold air-or pharmacological
stimulation of the cold-sensitive genetic program-may promote
longevity in mammals," said Shawn Xu, LSI faculty member and the
Bernard W. Agranoff Collegiate Professor in the Life Sciences at the
U-M Medical School.
The research was
published online Feb. 14 in the journal Cell.
Scientists had long
assumed that animals live longer in cold environments because of a
passive thermodynamic process, reasoning that low temperatures reduce
the rate of chemical reactions and thereby slow the rate of aging.
"But now, at
least in roundworms, the extended lifespan observed at low
temperature cannot be simply explained by a reduced rate of chemical
reactions," Xu said. "It's, in fact, an active process that
is regulated by genes."
Xu found that cold air
activates a receptor known as the TRPA1 channel, found in nerve and
fat cells in nematodes, and TRPA1 then passes calcium into cells. The
resulting chain of signaling ultimately reaches DAF-16/FOXO, a gene
associated with longevity. Mutant worms that lacked TRPA1 had shorter
life spans at lower temperatures.
Because the mechanisms
identified by Xu and his collaborators also exist in a range of other
organisms, including humans, the research suggests that a similar
effect might be possible.
The study also links
calcium signaling to longevity for the first time and makes a novel
connection between fat tissue and temperature response.
Researchers have known
that lowering the core body temperature of warm-blooded animals, such
as mice, by 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit can extend lifespan by 20 percent,
but it hasn't been practical for humans to attempt to lower the core
body temperature, Xu said.
"But if some
aspects of the aging process are initiated in skin and fat cells in
humans as they are in nematodes, should we go out to embrace some
cold air in the winter?" Xu said.
Xu added that in
addition to cool temperatures, the spicy condiment wasabi activates
TRPA1 as well, and that feeding wasabi to nematodes increases their
"Maybe we should
be going to sushi restaurants more often," he said.
Xu is a faculty member
in the U-M Life Sciences Institute, where his laboratory is located
and all his research is conducted. He is also an associate professor
in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the U-M
Other authors on the
paper were Rui Xiao and Yongming Dong of the Life Sciences Institute;
Bi Zhang and Jianke Gong of the Life Sciences Institute and the
College of Life Science and Technology at the Huazhong University of
Science and Technology; Tao Xu of the College of Life Science and
Technology at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology and
the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and
Jianfeng Liu of the College of Life Science and Technology at the
Huazhong University of Science and Technology.