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Moderation of neural excitation promotes longevity

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"Zullo and colleagues2 [have uncovered] an unexpected link between the nervous system and ageing. They show that overall neuronal excitation is a major determinant of lifespan, and that it is higher in short-lived individuals and lower in the long-lived. The authors also characterize some of the molecular players in this effect, and tie it to a well-known regulator of lifespan: signalling by the hormone insulin or by insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1)."

The full news article is here.

--Richard Schulman

 

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First thing, I think this introduction is incredibly well-written.

It includes the basic conceptualization of the aging process in a few words. It's solemn and sounds like the words of wisdom of ancient holy texts.

 
 
 
 
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The question of why and how we age — and why only a minority of humans live to become centenarians — has fascinated people for millennia. Over the past few decades, we have learnt that the rate of ageing is highly sensitive to intrinsic and extrinsic cues, and that these cues act, by means of numerous genetic pathways, to regulate the cellular and systemic processes that ultimately influence ageing1.

 

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The takehome lesson seems to be to activate the REST protein by keeping low the Insulin/IGF-1 levels. In worms it works all right.

In humans, it is well known that high Insulin and IGF-1 are usually inversely correlated with longevity, one more reason to check these signals. But we also know that it's an optimization process, not a lower-as-much-as-you-can procedure.

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