Longevity

101 Facts About Ageing #15: Methuselah Organisms

Posted on 21 July 2021

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American sociologist, politician, and diplomat once said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”. And we wholeheartedly agree. A shared set of facts is the first step to building a better world with longevity for all. In that spirit, we are creating a series that covers 101 indisputable facts about ageing, health and longevity.

The lifespan of certain organisms can be significantly extended through the use of simple interventions. Dietary restriction methods such as fasting can double or even triple the lifespan of worms and increase that of mice by up to 50%. Many widely available drugs, such as the immunosuppressant rapamycin, various blood sugar-lowing drugs and drugs that reduce the activity of certain growth hormones have also been shown to extend lifespan in these organisms. Blood transfusion from a young mouse to an older mouse can significantly extend the older mouse’s lifespan. Mutations in certain genes can also significantly extend lifespan.

The methuselahs in lab. The increase in maximum lifespan in the laboratory was obtained in 5 animal species, both without any interventions, and by dietary, chemical, or genetic interventions. For each organism the impact of increase in maximum lifespan through intervention is indicated in the graph using fold change.
The methuselahs in lab. The increase in maximum lifespan in the laboratory was obtained in 5 animal species, both without any interventions, and by dietary, chemical, or genetic interventions. For each organism the impact of increase in maximum lifespan through intervention is indicated in the graph using fold change. Source: It is time to classify biological aging as a disease

Generally speaking, the shorter the average lifespan of the organism, the greater the effect of lifespan-extending interventions. In mice, the closest organism to humans in which lifespan extension has been extensively demonstrated, lifespan extension is associated with protection against diseases of ageing including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and cognitive decline.

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The lifespan and health effects of dietary restriction, mutations and drugs in different organisms.
Source

We do not know whether these interventions can extend lifespan in humans. Most agree that if they do, the effects will be mild in comparison with those in the animal models mentioned above.


References

Dietary Restriction, Growth Factors and Aging: from yeast to humans: doi: 10.1126/science.1172539

Single-gene mutations and healthy ageing in mammals: https://dx.doi.org/10.1098%2Frstb.2010.0281

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