Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Why is this research important: The mitochondria are often known as the ‘powerhouse of the cell’, this is due to the fact that they are the cellular generators which pump out the molecule that fuels the processes of each and every cell in your body – ATP. Mitochondria are a unique part of our cellular architecture because they contain their own unique DNA, known as mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA. The accumulation of mutations in our mtDNA has been proposed as one of the key reasons that our mitochondria function improperly as we get older.
When talking about biological ageing, it is needless to say that regular exercise is unanimously thought of as one of the most important factors in living a healthy and long life. A popular form of exercise for a large proportion of the population involves the use of weights to increase strength and endurance, this is known as resistance training. Other than improving aspects of physical performance, resistance training has been linked to a number of other health benefits, including: reduced cognitive decline with age, greater mobility, greater bone density and reduced risk of osteoarthritis, and improved heart health, and many more. Resistance training has even been shown to reverse some of the molecular hallmarks of biological ageing.
What did the researchers do: A group of scientists decided to explore the impact of resistance training on some of the molecular mechanisms that alter as we age. To do this they gathered 10 males aged between 50-75 years old for a 6 week trial that saw half of the group performing training sessions on a bi-weekly basis. Scans and biopsies of the leg tissue were gathered and analysed in order to investigate the changes which occurred between the group subject to the resistance training, and the control.
Key takeaway(s) from this research: The results revealed that the aged methylome of the mtDNA had been restored back to a more youthful state in the individuals who had undergone the resistance training. The methylome describes the set of methyl markers that attach to certain sites on the genome, which control the expression of genes. Almost like a genetic switch, switching genes on and off.
Therefore, in other words, the results showed the genes which had been wrongly switched on or off during ageing in the older men, had been reversed back to a state that was seen in younger men. These findings reveal more about the relationship between exercise, health and ageing and reiterate how important exercise is even at a cellular level.