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International scientists unveil link between lipid metabolism and lifespan

The maximum lifespan is a stable feature of a biological species which varies for different species

MOSCOW, March 8. /TASS/ Following studies of tissue samples of various mammals by an international group of scientists, these researchers have come to the conclusion that fat, or lipid metabolism influences a species’ maximum lifespan, the Skoltech press office reported. This work will shed light on the molecular mechanisms of aging and determining lifespans. The study’s results were published in the Scientific Reports journal from the Nature publishing group.

"We have succeeded in pinning down the relation between a species’ lifespan and the peculiarities of its lipid metabolism," said Yekaterina Khrameeva, one of the study’s coauthors, and a research assistant at the Research and Training Center on Bioinformatics of the Institute for Information Transmission Problems RAS.

The maximum lifespan is a stable feature of a biological species which varies for different species. Despite the fact that for the past couple of centuries, the average lifespan for a human has notably increased, the maximum lifespan of humans still remains unchanged.

The natural mechanism and the reasons for the differences in lifespans of various species of animals have been not found until now. A large international research team from Russia, China, Germany, France, the US, and South Africa supervised by the Skoltech Professor Philipp Khaitovich analyzed the lipid composition of tissues of the brain, kidneys, liver, heart, and muscles taken from 35 species of various mammals. The researchers discovered that species with different lifespans have different lipid compositions of tissues. The results that have been obtained clearly demonstrate the link in a species’ maximal lifespan to lipid metabolism.

Additionally, the researchers have come to the conclusion that the chemical structure of lipids influenced the lifespan. For instance, the molecules of lipids of longer-living species are more saturated with hydrogen than those of short-living species. This phenomenon can be rationalized by the better resistance of hydrogen-saturated lipids to the oxidative process which the cells are exposed to while aging.

At the same time, for the lipids involved in the energetic processes, the dependence is the complete opposite. Unsaturated energetic lipids can be found more often in the tissues of those species who are endowed with longevity, but not of short-living species. The study’s authors assume that this is connected with the fact that such lipids are harder for the cells to convert them into energy with the slow metabolism being one of the features of long-living species.