Lifespan Extension Linked to Lower Oxygen Intake

From various supplements to regular exercise, our society tries to live a healthy life for longevity and an invigorating lifetime. Researchers have now found a link between oxygen limitation, or reducing the amount of oxygen consumed, and longer longevity in a lab mice study.

The new findings, published on May 23rd in PLOS Biology, say decreased oxygen consumption, or "oxygen restriction," is linked to a longer lifespan in laboratory mice, underlining its anti-aging potential.

Robert Rogers of Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues suggest that metformin, or dietary restrictions, are only two examples of the chemical substances and other treatments that have been found via research attempts to increase healthy lifespan as having potential effects in mammalian lab animals.

Yeast, nematodes, and fruit flies have all been shown to live longer when exposed to oxygen deprivation. Its effects on animals, however, are yet unclear.

Rogers and colleagues performed lab trials using mice engineered to age faster than regular mice while exhibiting the typical indications of mammalian aging throughout their bodies to investigate the anti-aging potential of oxygen limitation in animals. The lifespans of mice living at normal atmospheric oxygen levels, at approximately 21%, were compared to the lifespans of mice that were transferred to a decreased oxygen environment of roughly 11% at the age of 4 weeks.

They discovered that the mice in the oxygen-restricted environment had a median longevity of 23.6 weeks as opposed to 15.7 weeks, about 50% longer than the animals in the usual oxygen environment.

The development of brain impairments linked to aging was similarly slowed in the oxygen-restricted animals. The same type of fast-aging mice employed in this current study was proven to live longer when their diets were restricted in earlier studies. Thus, scientists pondered whether oxygen limitation made the mice consume more, extending their lives.

They discovered that oxygen limitation had little effect on appetite, indicating that different processes were at work. These results support the idea that oxygen limitation slows down the aging process in animals, maybe even humans. However, to fully understand its potential advantages and shed light on the underlying molecular pathways, substantial further study will be required.

"We find that chronic continuous hypoxia (11% oxygen, equivalent to what would be experienced at Everest Base Camp) extends lifespan by 50% and delays the onset of neurologic debility in a mouse aging model," continues Rogers.

He concludes: "While caloric restriction is the most widely effective and well-studied intervention to increase lifespan and healthspan, this is the first time that 'oxygen restriction' has been demonstrated as beneficial in a mammalian aging model."

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