With our finite time in this world, we must make the most of it. Now, new research shows that certain genes, when combined with a healthy environment that includes exercise , can extend the life. Researchers at the University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions studied the genes of dopamine to assess their impact on life expectancy and behavior in mice. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control reward and pleasure centers of the brain and helps regulate physical mobility and emotional response.
The team found that the dopamine D2 receptor gene (D2R) significantly influences the activity of life, body weight and the locomotive, but only when combined with an enriched environment that included social interaction, sensory and cognitive stimulation and, most critically, exercise. The team leader Panayotis (Peter) Thanos K. said incorporating exercise is an important component of an enriched environment and its benefits have been shown to be a potent mediator of brain function and behavior.
The mice in the enriched environment lived anywhere from 16 to 22 percent more than those in a private setting, depending on the level of expression D2R. Thanos noted that the dichotomy on genes versus environment has provided a rigorous and lengthy debate in the decipherment of individual differences in longevity. Indeed, there is a complex interaction between the two that contribute to the differences.
The study was published online in the journal Oncotarget Aging .
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