How to stay young for longer

How to stay young for longer

In the study to be published in the journal eLife, the research team administered thousands of worms with either water or antidepressant mianserin and looked at the activity of genes as the worms aged.

First, they measured the activity of genes in young adults as a reference point against which to monitor the aging process. Reproductive maturity begins in day-old roundworms and they live for 2-3 weeks on average.

As the worms aged, the team observed dramatic changes in gene expression. However, the changes occurred in a way that came as a complete surprise. Groups of genes that together play a role in the same function were found to change expression in opposing directions.

They have called this newly-discovered phenomenon 'transcriptional drift'. By examining data from mice and from 32 human brains aged 26 to 106 years, they confirmed that it also occurs in mammals.
"Transcriptional drift can be used as a new metric for measuring age-associated changes that start in young adulthood," says first author.
Using this new metric revealed that treatment with mianserin can suppress transcriptional drift, but only when administered at the right time of life. By 10 days old, treated worms still had the gene expression characteristics of a three-day-old—physiologically they were seven days younger. But by 12 days, the physiological changes required to extend lifespan were complete and lifelong exposure to the drug had no additional effect. Mortality rates were shifted parallel by 7-8 days across the treated worms' lifespan, confirming the finding.
Mianserin blocked signals related to the regulation of serotonin and this delayed physiological changes associated with age, including the newly-identified transcriptional drift and degenerative processes that lead to death. The effect only occurred during young adulthood and the duration of this period of life was significantly extended.
"How much of our findings with regards to lifespan extension will spill over to mammals is anyone's guess, for example the extension of lifespan might not be as dramatic," says the author.
"However, we are already excited about the fact that we observed the phenomenon of transcriptional drift in species ranging from worms, mice to humans."