Aging leaves no one behind, but all humans experience the process differently, depending on genetics and life factors.
For their part, the dolphins used by the US Navy usually exist in a fairly uniform set of circumstances: diet and habitat are almost the same for all individuals. Because these aquatic mammals experience aging in a similar way to humans, Navy dolphins were recently selected as the subjects of a new long-term aging study. The goal of the future: To delay the process of human aging.
The results of this study were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In dolphins, four key traits show how aging appears in the blood, the study team reports. Scientists took blood samples from 144 dolphins over the age of 25 at home, where markers relevant to human health were introduced. The results demonstrate the difference between slow and accelerated aging between individuals in the same population.
The study’s lead author, Stephanie Venn-Watson, is a co-founder and CEO of the life sciences company Epitracker.
“While it is believed that some people age faster than others, it has been difficult to show that people age at different rates,” explains Venn-Watson. Reverse.
Venn-Watson and colleagues identified four biomarkers in dolphin blood that help measure the rate of aging:
- Hemoglobin – An iron-containing protein that carries oxygen to red blood cells; decreases with age
- Lymphocytes – Immune cells; decrease with age
- Platelets – Cell fragments involved in blood clotting
- Alkaline phosphatase – Enzyme used to detect liver and bone diseases
“Based on these indices, we were able to confirm the presence of slow and accelerated aging dolphins,” says Venn-Watson. In other words, they measured what an abrupt process versus a gradual aging process looks like.
Venn-Watson explains, for example, hemoglobin and lymphocytes. Taken together, this puts larger dolphins (and people) at a higher risk of anemia and serious infections. Dolphins that age faster run an even greater risk.
The conclusion “supports that the key and non-environmental factors of the aging rate can be identified and therefore can be oriented to delay oneself “.
With humans and wild dolphins, the aging process is influenced by environmental or life factors. In humans, this includes socioeconomic status and chronic medication. In contrast, US Navy dolphins, who train for missions such as equipment recovery and underwater mine detection, live in similar conditions. This allowed researchers to isolate aging patterns without environmental prejudice.
“It’s important to note that we could clearly differentiate between slow and accelerated aging dolphins even though all the dolphins in the population shared the same diet, health care, and ocean environment,” says Venn-Watson. The finding “supports that key and non-environmental factors of the aging rate can be identified and therefore can be geared towards curbing aging itself.”
Slow aging – As new research reveals, aging more slowly protects individuals against some of the major health challenges that time, regardless of the environment, have.
This idea could inform human medicine in the future and possibly the development of therapies that slow down the human aging process.
Most research on aged animals involves those people with short life tracks, such as worms, flies, and mice. Studying dolphins, Venn-Watson says he hopes to learn how long-lived animals, like humans, reach their older ages in the first place, and “how we can leverage these mechanisms to help people and dolphins live longer. time and health “.
Dolphins are an especially useful model for studying human aging, as they can be affected by aging-related conditions such as high cholesterol, chronic inflammation, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
“These similarities support dolphins and humans sharing similar mechanisms related to aging,” says Venn-Watson.
Now, with this study, scientists have evidence of a slow and accelerated aging of dolphins. This could help researchers guide and slow the aging process in humans.
“We hope our study can help longevity doctors and researchers prioritize clinically relevant rates in the elderly, including decreased hemoglobin and lymphocytes,” says Venn-Watson, “to not only prevent and treat anemia. and decreased immunity but possibly help delay aging rates as well. “
Summary: While humans are believed to age at different rates, the lack of solid longitudinal human studies using consensus biomarkers to capture aging rates has hampered an understanding of the degree to which individuals vary in their rates of aging. aging. Because bottlenose dolphins are long-lived mammals that develop human-like aging comorbidities, we analyzed data from a well-controlled longitudinal cohort of 25 and 144 U.S. Navy dolphins located in the same ocean environment. Our analysis focused on 44 relevant hematologic and clinical chemistry measurements recorded during routine dolphin tracing throughout life. Using step-by-step regression and general linear models that fit correlations between measurements obtained on individual dolphins, we show that, in a similar way to humans, dolphins show independent, linear age-related decreases in four of these measures: hemoglobin, alkaline phosphatase, platelets, and lymphocytes. Using linear regressions and covariance analysis with Tukey-Kramer post hoc tests to compare the tracks (i.e., age-related linear rates) of our four aging rate biomarkers among 34 individual dolphins aged between 10 and 40 years, we could identify slow and accelerated agers and differentiate subgroups that were more or less likely to develop anemia and lymphopenia. This study successfully documents the lifetime aging rate differences of long-lived individuals in a controlled environment. Our study suggests that non-environmental factors influencing biomarkers of the aging rate, such as hemoglobin and declining anemia, may be aimed at delaying the effects of aging in a compelling model of human biology. .