Lipid composition is associated with the lifespan

The International group of scientists reported on lipid impact on the lifespan. Scientists have analyzed 669 tissue samples from 6 tissues of 35 mammalian species and came up with a conclusion that lipid metabolism has a substantial impact on the variation in maximal lifespan among mammals. These findings shaded light on molecular mechanisms involved in aging and lifespan determination.

Maximal lifespan is a stable characteristic of a species. Over the past centuries, human average life expectancy increased significantly, but our maximal lifespan remains constant around 120 years. For living longer, the crucial point is to understand what determines our maximal age.

Maximal lifespan varies greatly: even among closely related species it can have more than 10-fold difference. The nature of the mechanisms that determine this variability is unresolved. A big group of scientists from Russia, China, Germany, France, USA and South Africa led by Skoltech Professor Philipp Khaitovich has analyzed the lipid content in the brain, kidney, liver, heart and muscle tissues in 35 mammalian species. Mass-spectrometry technology with following bioinformatical analysis revealed the difference in the lipid composition between different tissues and different species of living organisms. The results demonstrated the link between lipid metabolism and maximum life expectancy of a species.

In addition, scientists reported that lipid chemical composition is also important for the lifespan. For, example structural lipids, such as sphingolipids, in the cell membrane content are more saturated by hydrogen in long-living species. Scientists believe that the reason for this phenomenon is the stability of such lipids and their resistance to the continuous oxidative stress affecting our cells during aging. In the same time for energy-related lipids, correlation is opposite. Long-living species have more unsaturated (with double-bonds) energy-related lipids than species with shorter lives. The authors suppose that this is due to the fact that unsaturated lipids are more difficult to convert into energy, and slow metabolism is one of the characteristics of long-lived species.

Ekaterina Khrameeva, Skoltech research scientist, Junior research Scientist in Training and Research Center “Bioinformatics” in the Institute for Information Transmission Problems RAS,  one of the authors: “We have managed to find a connection between the lifespan and lipid metabolism features. This result is interesting by itself but lipidome data for 35 mammalian species that we have obtained are even more important. These data are a perfect source for lipidome evolutionary studies. We are working on it now. Previously, the evolution of lipidome was studied for four species only. Our data for 35 species will help to obtain new interesting results.”

The results of the study have published Nature Scientific Reports.

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