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Tags: longevity | gene | active | life | span | expectancy

Gene Linked to Longevity

Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:05 AM EST

For the first time, medical researchers have identified a gene associated with active personality traits that appears to boost longevity.

Researchers with the University of California-Irvine have found that a variant of a gene that helps regulate the brain chemical dopamine — called the DRD4 7R allele — is far more common in people who live to be more than 90 years old. The gene has also been linked to lifespan increases in laboratory studies of mice.
The research — led by Robert Moyzis, professor of biological chemistry at UC-Irvine, and Dr. Nora Volkow, a psychiatrist with the Brookhaven National Laboratory who also directs the National Institute on Drug Abuse — was published online in The Journal of Neuroscience. It was based on analysis of data from the long-running UC-Irvine’s 90+ Study of seniors living in Laguna Woods, Calif.
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Moyzis said researchers don’t believe the gene itself accounts for increased life expectancy for those who have it, but it appears to be tied to healthy habits that lead to longer life.
"While the genetic variant may not directly influence longevity," Moyzis said, "it is associated with personality traits that have been shown to be important for living a longer, healthier life. It's been well documented that the more you're involved with social and physical activities, the more likely you'll live longer. It could be as simple as that."
The gene is part of the dopamine system of the brain, which plays a major role in attention and reward-driven learning. People who carry this variant gene, Moyzis said, seem to be more motivated to pursue social, intellectual, and physical activities. It is also linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and addictive and risky behaviors.
Numerous studies have confirmed that being active is important for successful aging, and it may deter the advancement of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
For the new study, the UC-Irvine team analyzed genetic samples from 310 seniors participating in the 90+ Study. The results showed they were 66 percent more likely to carry the gene variant than a comparison group of 2,902 people between the ages of 7 and 45. They were also more likely to engage in higher levels of physical activity.
While more research is needed to identify clinical benefits from the research, Moyzis said: “It is clear that individuals with this gene variant are already more likely to be responding to the well-known medical adage to get more physical activity."
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© HealthDay

For the first time, researchers have identified a gene tied to active personality traits that appears to boost life expectancy.
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:05 AM
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