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Targeted yeast mutants may extend human lifespan: Study

Scientists have found a mechanism in yeast cells that may extend a person's lifespan.

By Amy Wallace
A new study unlocks the keys to aging in yeast cells and could lead to anti-aging treatment in humans. Photo by C Levers/Shutterstock
A new study unlocks the keys to aging in yeast cells and could lead to anti-aging treatment in humans. Photo by C Levers/Shutterstock

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, have identified a secret to aging in yeast cells that could be targeted to improve health and extend life.

The research team was able to uncover a distinct set of genes in yeast cells that can slow or increase the aging process.

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"We're the first to provide evidence for the existence of genetic mechanisms that limit lifespan," Vladimir Titorenko, biology professor at the Concordia University Faculty of Arts and Science and author of the study, said in a press release.

Researchers exposed yeast to lithocholic acid, an anti-aging natural molecule Titorenko discovered in a prior study. The exposed yeast created long-lived yeast mutants they called "yeast centenarians."

The mutant yeast cells lived five times longer than the normal yeast cells because their mitochondria, the part of the cell that produces respiration and energy, used more oxygen and made more energy than normal yeast. The mutant yeast centenarians were more resistant to oxidative damage, which causes aging.

"This confirms that lithocholic acid, which occurs naturally in the environment, can not only delay yeast aging but can also force the evolution of exceptionally long-lived yeast," Titorenko said, who added that these findings could apply to humans as well.

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The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics.

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