Scientists Link Genes to Longer Human Lifespan

A group of genes that play an essential role in building components of our cells can also impact human lifespan, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

The genes have previously been found to extend lifespan in small organisms, such as making fruit flies live 10% longer, but this is the first time scientists have demonstrated a link in people as well, as they report in a new Genome Research paper.

Co-lead author Dr. Nazif Alic (UCL Institute of Healthy Aging) said: “We have already seen from extensive previous research that inhibiting certain genes involved in making proteins in our cells, can extend lifespan in model organisms such as yeast, worms, and flies. However, in humans, loss of function in these genes has been seen to cause diseases, such as developmental disorders known as ribosomopathies.

“Here, we have found that inhibiting these genes may also increase longevity in people, perhaps because they are most useful early in life before causing problems in late life.”

The genes are involved in the protein synthetic machinery of our cells, which is essential for life, but the researchers say it may be that we do not need as much of its effect late in life. The genes appear to be an example of antagonistic pleiotropy, where genes that shorten our lives are selected for in evolution if they help us early in life and through our child-bearing years.

The researchers reviewed genetic data from previous studies involving 11,262 people who had lived an exceptionally long life, to an age above the 90th percentile of their cohort. They found that people with reduced activity of certain genes were more likely to live very long lives. The genes are linked to two (function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.6"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

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