Genome of Long-Lived Brandt’s Bat Sheds Some Light to Its Exceptional Longevity

Brandt's bat


Congratulations to my colleague, Dr. Alexey Moskalev, who, with collaboration with Dr. Vadim Gladyshev, published this awesome paper on genetic basis of exceptional longevity of the Brandt’s bat. This is an amazing animal – it lives up to more than 40 years of age, but weighs only 4-8 grams. A tiny “centenarian” creature. It lives in caves, sleeps during the day, echolocates and hibernates during winter. Every trait has its genetic background. The authors tried to decipher the background of the bat’s longevity.

The most important thing that they found was that Brandt’s bat has altered growth hormone and insulin growth factor 1 signaling (GH/IGF1). This signaling is reduced, there is a kind of dysfunction, that contributes to the animal’s longevity along with the adaptations like hibernation and low reproduction rate. There are other interesting findings. For example, olfactory function is also reduced in these amazing animals. It’s interesting, because olfactory system plays a role in regulating longevity. For example, if you put drosophilas on a restricted diet, they start to live longer, but if you let them smell food, then life extension effect goes away.

I think that this work is crucial, because if we are able to identify the genes that are responsible to exceptional longevity in species like naked mole rats, whales and rougheye rockfish, we’d be able to find the way to alter the activity of those longevity genes in our bodies, for example, pharmacologically. Eventually this will lead to creating life extension therapies that would make us live longer, healthier and happier lives.

1 Comment

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One response to “Genome of Long-Lived Brandt’s Bat Sheds Some Light to Its Exceptional Longevity

  1. I have researched the relationship between smaller human body size and longevity for about 40 years. Some facts that support the bat findings include:

    1. Within a species, the smaller individual lives longer: dogs, mice, rats, cows, horses and elephants
    2. Smaller women live longer than men (I found that American males are 9% taller and have a 9% shorter life expectancy.)
    3. A Spanish study of 1.3 million men found that shorter men live longer.
    4. An Ohio study of deceased men and women found that men and women who were shorter lived longer.
    5. Data from baseball, football and basketball players showed that shorter athletes lived longer.
    6. A study of men in a small village in Sardinia found shorter men lived longer.
    7. A study found shorter Japanese Hawaiians lived longer.
    8. Centenarians are generally quite short even accounting for shrinkage. I have found no peer-reviewed studies that found tall people represent a majority of the study group.
    9. Many studies have found that taller people have a modestly higher death rate from cancer.
    10. Many biological factors support the greater longevity of shorter, proportionately lower weight people: lower growth factors, lower glucose, lower blood pressure, lower C-reactive protein, lower Apo B, and lower insulin.
    11. Giovannelli found that shorter people had much lower DNA damage.

    Now this does not mean that tall people will die young. As when we compare men and women, many men outlive women although most men die younger. Likewise, many tall people will outlive shorter men but more shorter people will do better. Also keep in mind that height is only about 10% of the longevity picture. Genes, education, income status, nutrition, medical care, stress management, and socialization are more important.

    Also keep in mind that many studies have found that taller people have lower mortality rates (not the same as longevity studies described above). However, other studies have found no or little difference in mortality rates between tall and short people. The most likely explanations for this conflict are differences in childhood illness, economic status, and lower body mass indexes. Well-off people tend to be taller than working class people and eat healthier than working class people.

    For more information on this research, a list of publications are listed in the website: http://www.humanbodysize

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