Fitness in old age depends on genes



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Fitness in old age is dependent on genes: armored retirement life is genetically determined.

The Amish or "Amish People" as they are called in America are often very healthy and relatively fit into old age. However, this is not due to the values ​​of the religious community, but to their genes, as William Scott from the University of Miami at Coral Gables and his colleagues announced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Washington. According to this, sport, healthy eating and adequate sleep are factors that can prolong life, but the key to the fact that many Amish people are particularly robust in old age is in the genes.

Many sprightly retirees among the Amish people US researchers have known for a long time that a particularly large number of Amish people are mentally active and physically fit even beyond the age of 80. The scientists at the University of Miami wanted to find out the reason for this in a comprehensive study of 263 Amish people aged 80 and over. The researchers classified a third of the study participants as "successfully aging", meaning that those affected are mentally and mentally healthy, rarely get sick, are socially active, live independently and describe themselves as satisfied. The other two thirds of the study participants served as a control group for the scientists.

Christian community of faith with special values ​​The Christian community of the Amish People lives in the eastern United States and Canada in relatively simple conditions, rejects a large part of the technical progress, attaches importance to the seclusion from the outside world and gives family and religious community a particularly high importance. In addition to the lifestyle, the focus of the study was on the genetic factors. In their study, they focused primarily on the mitochondrial haplogroups, which include genetic variants that have been associated with successful aging for some time and are mainly transmitted to the child from the mother's genetic makeup.

15 percent have haplogroup X. The study showed that 15 percent of vigorous Amish people over the age of 80 had mitochondrial haplogroup X, but only two percent of Europeans and only three percent of the control group had this genetic trait. The scientists had compared the Amish haplogroups to those widespread in Europe, since the founders of the Christian faith originally came from Europe. However, there were no parallels. The researchers also found that only five percent of the test subjects carried haplogroup J, which is associated with faster physical and mental degradation in old age.

Mitochondria crucial for aging According to the scientists led by William Scott, the decisive factor here is the effect of the genetic disposition or the haplogroups on the mitochondria. These are found in almost every human cell and act as tiny "energy power plants" that provide the cell with the high-energy molecule adenosine triphosphate. However, in order to clearly clarify the connection between the function of the mitochondria and human aging, according to William Scott, further studies are required that deal in detail with the connection between the different haplogroups, the mitochondria and the cell aging processes. (fp, 04.11.2010)

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Photo credit: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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