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In a new study from UCL, researchers found a group of genes that play an essential role in building components of our cells can also impact human lifespan.
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.
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.
In the study, the team 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 RNA polymerase enzymes (Pols) that transcribe ribosomal and transfer RNAs, namely Pol I and Pol III, as well as the expression of ribosomal protein genes.
The scientists found evidence that the genes’ effects were linked to their expression in specific organs, including abdominal fat, liver, and skeletal muscle, but also found that the effect on longevity went beyond just associations with any specific age-related diseases.
The findings add to the evidence that drugs such as rapamycin, an immune regulator which acts to inhibit Pol III, may be helpful to promote a healthy lifespan.
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For more information about health, please see recent studies that walking every day can help you live longer, and results showing that low-protein diets may help you live longer, preventing chronic diseases.
The study is published in Genome Research. One author of the study is Dr. Nazif Alic.
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