Cold-blooded vertebrates teach us about aging well

Why do some animals live longer than others? An international study published in the journal “Science” provides some answers.

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A team of more than a hundred scientists looked at the aging of 77 wild species of reptiles and amphibians, in a study published by the journal Science. Because it is an observation, some animals of this family have an extraordinary life expectancy. This is, for example, the case of Jonathan, a 190-year-old giant tortoise from the Seychelles. It is considered the oldest living land animal in the world. And it’s not just Jonathan, salamanders or some lizards also age very slowly. Their mortality risk is 1% at age 10 and it still remains 1% at 100 years unlike us, or most mammals, in which the risk of death unfortunately increases with age.

Researchers have managed to unlock the secret of this longevity. They got leads and not necessarily the ones they were expecting. VSar researchers believed that slower aging was linked above all to the fact that these reptiles and amphibians are cold-blooded animals, and therefore with a particular metabolism. A metabolism that makes them spend less energy to adapt to outside temperatures. But in reality, there are other particularities that allow these animals to age less quickly: in particular, the fact of being equipped with spines, a shell or venom which are protections against predators. They are less threatened and this favorable environment naturally pushes them to age less quickly, explain the researchers.

This knowledge about cold-blooded animals can help us (warm-blooded) humans age less quickly. Dfirst by providing fundamental proof that it is possible to slow down aging and that the passage of time is not necessarily inevitable. Hugo Cayuela, researcher at the CNRS, one of the authors of the study, explained to us that in these animals which age slowly, ithere are special capacities for tissue regeneration or abilities to fight against cancer. This could give us keys to help us, too, to live more easily until 100 years.

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