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Einstein researchers discover gene mutations linked to longer lifespans
Date:3/4/2008

March 4, 2008 (Bronx, NY) Mutations in genes governing an important cell-signaling pathway influence human longevity, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found. Their research is described in the March 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The report is the latest finding in the Einstein researchers ongoing search for genetic clues to longevity through their study that by now has recruited more than 450 Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews between the ages of 95 and 110. Descended from a small founder group, Ashkenazi Jews are more genetically uniform than other groups, making it easier to spot gene differences that are present. In 2003, this study resulted in the first two longevity genes ever identifiedfindings that have since been validated by other research.

The present study focused on genes involved in the action of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I), a hormone that in humans is regulated by human growth hormone. Affecting virtually every cell type in the body, IGF-I is crucially important for childrens growth and continues contributing to tissue synthesis into adulthood. The IGF-I cell-signaling pathway is triggered when IGF-I molecules circulating in blood plasma latch onto receptors on the surface of cells, causing a signal to be sent to the cells nucleus that may, for example, tell that cell to divide.

Animal research had shown that mutations to genes involved in the IGF-I signaling pathway cause two effects: Affected animals have impaired growth but also longer life spans. So the Einstein scientists reasoned that altered signaling in this pathway might also influence human longevity. To find out, they analyzed IGF-I-related genetic variations in 384 Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians. And since plasma levels of IGF-I do not reflect their levels at a younger age, the researchers also looked at two other groups: the children of these centenarians, and a control gr
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Contact: Karen Gardner
kgardner@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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