New research with mice offers more evidence of a complex interaction between genes and the environment when it comes to living longer.
Scientists found that a gene called D2R in the brain’s dopamine system can play an important role in prolonging lifespan of mice—but only when combined with an enriched environment that included social interaction, 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,” says Panayotis (Peter) K. Thanos, study leader and senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions.
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.”
Researchers from Suffolk Community College, the University of Florida, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse contributed to the study, which appears in the journal Oncotarget.
Source: University at Buffalo