Research shows certain genes, in healthy environments, can lengthen lifespan

April 22, 2016 by Cathy Wilde, University at Buffalo
Credit: University at Buffalo

Researchers at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions have discovered how a gene in the brain's dopamine system can play an important role in prolonging lifespan: it must be coupled with a healthy environment that includes exercise.

The study, led by Panayotis (Peter) K. Thanos, senior research scientist at RIA, appears in the current, online version of Oncotarget Aging, a top-ranked aging journal.

Thanos and his team studied the genes in to assess their impact on lifespan and behavior in mice. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers and helps regulate physical mobility and emotional response.

The researchers found that the dopamine D2 receptor gene (D2R) significantly influences lifespan, body weight and locomotor activity, but only when combined with an enriched environment that included , sensory and cognitive stimulation and, most critically, exercise.

"The incorporation of exercise is an important component of an enriched environment and its benefits have been shown to be a powerful mediator of brain function and behavior," Thanos says.

The mice in the enriched environment lived anywhere from 16 to 22 percent longer than those in a deprived environment, depending on the level of D2R expression.

"These results provide the first evidence of D2R gene-environment interaction playing an important role in longevity and aging," Thanos says. "The dichotomy over genes versus environment has provided a rigorous and long debate in deciphering individual differences in longevity. In truth, there exists a complex interaction between the two which contribute to the differences."

Research exploring this genetic-environmental interaction should lead to a better understanding and prediction of the potential benefits of specific environments, such as those including exercise, on longevity and health during aging.

Explore further: Researchers to study link between gastric bypass and alcohol abuse

Related Stories

Researchers to study link between gastric bypass and alcohol abuse

April 1, 2016
A new collaborative study from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions and the Penn State College of Medicine will investigate why a significant percentage of people who undergo gastric bypass surgery develop ...

Dopamine-receptor gene variant linked to human longevity

January 3, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A variant of a gene associated with active personality traits in humans seems to also be involved with living a longer life, UC Irvine and other researchers have found.

Both sides now: Brain reward molecule helps learning to avoid unpleasant experience, too

February 29, 2016
The brain chemical dopamine regulates how mice learn to avoid a disagreeable encounter, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "We know that dopamine reinforces 'rewarding' ...

Recommended for you

Scientists cut main heart disease risk locus out of DNA by genome editing

December 6, 2018
Over the past decade we've learned that billions of people carry a mysterious specter in their DNA that strongly increases their risk for life threatening cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, aneurysms or strokes, ...

What can a snowflake teach us about how cancer spreads in the body?

December 6, 2018
What can seashells, lightning and the coastline of Britain teach us about new drugs for cancer?

New genetic insight could help treat rare debilitating heart and lung condition

December 6, 2018
The largest study of genetic variation in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension has associated two important genes with the disease.

Are scientists studying the wrong kind of mice?

December 5, 2018
Mice represent well over half of the non-human subjects of biomedical research, and the vast majority of those mice are inbred. Formed by generation after generation of mating between brothers and sisters, inbred mice are ...

Researchers find evidence of prenatal environment tuning genomic imprinting

December 5, 2018
A team of researchers from the U.S., Australia and Denmark has found evidence of the prenatal environment tuning genomic imprinting. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes ...

Gene that lets you eat as much as you want holds promise against obesity

December 4, 2018
It sounds too good to be true, but a novel approach that might allow you to eat as much food as you want without gaining weight could be a reality in the near future.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

postscarce
not rated yet Apr 23, 2016
Oncotarget Aging is NOT a "top-ranked aging journal". It is run by Impact Journals, which is a known predatory publisher.

h t t ps://scholarlyoa.com/publishers

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.