Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stay cool and live longer? Genetic program promotes longevity in cold environments

Date:
February 14, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
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 exactly why. Researchers 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.

Researchers 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.
Credit: © Alexandr Mitiuc / Fotolia

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 exactly why.

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 life spans.

"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 Medical School.

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.

This work was supported by the Program of Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities from the Ministry of Education of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Institute of Aging, both of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rui Xiao, Bi Zhang, Yongming Dong, Jianke Gong, Tao Xu, Jianfeng Liu, X.Z. Shawn Xu. A Genetic Program Promotes C. elegans Longevity at Cold Temperatures via a Thermosensitive TRP Channel. Cell, 2013; 152 (4): 806 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.01.020

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Stay cool and live longer? Genetic program promotes longevity in cold environments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214132617.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2013, February 14). Stay cool and live longer? Genetic program promotes longevity in cold environments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214132617.htm
University of Michigan. "Stay cool and live longer? Genetic program promotes longevity in cold environments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214132617.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) — An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) — An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) — A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) — Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins