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Life span lengthens when mice feel less pain

Metabolism gets healthier in rodents engineered to lack a sensory protein

12:29pm, May 22, 2014

NO PAIN, BIG GAIN  Mice that lack the pain receptor Trpv1 live longer and have improved metabolism compared with mice that feel pain normally (one shown).

Mice with less pain live longer. When the animals lack a certain pain-sensing protein, their life span increases by an average of 10 to 15 percent, scientists report May 22 in Cell.

With age, many people suffer more frequent bouts of pain, says study coauthor Andrew Dillin of the University of California, Berkeley. He and his team wondered about pain’s connection to getting older. “We simply just asked, is pain actually driving the aging process or is it part of the process, just going along for the ride?” Dillin says.

The team studied mice genetically engineered to lack the protein Trpv1, a molecule important for sensing pain. Perched on the outsides of nerve cells, Trpv1 senses scalding heat and spicy chili peppers, among other things. It also helps detect body temperature and influences insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

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