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Anti-inflammation genes linked to longer lives

Species with more ‘Siglecs’ get longevity boost, study suggests

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5:12pm, April 7, 2015
Siglec genes

LONGEVITY BY THE NUMBERS  How long a species lives depends upon the number of “Siglec” genes it carries. Siglec genes encode immune proteins that may protect against aging by fighting oxidants. Source: Schwarz et al./eLife 2015; Adapted by E. Otwel.  

Stocking up on genes that help control inflammation leads to longer life spans for humans and other species, a new study suggests.

Genes encoding some inflammation-dampening molecules are more numerous in longer-lived species, such as humans, than in short-lived animals such as mice, researchers report April 7 in eLife. The genes produce proteins known as CD33-related Siglecs.

Siglecs are proteins that recognize different versions of sugars, called sialic acids, which stud cells in the body. By distinguishing between different versions of sialic acid, the proteins help the immune system decide which cells are normal residents of the body and which are intruders. In addition, the proteins soothe inflammation in the aftermath of such dangers as injury, allergies, or infection. The new findings suggest that Siglecs also help the body deal with reactive oxygen molecules, which can damage DNA and other cellular components and promote aging.

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