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Reduced body temperature extends lifespan in study from the Scripps Research Institute

To do so, they created a mouse model that produced large quantities of uncoupling protein 2 in hypocretin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus, which is near the preoptic area. The action of uncoupling protein 2 produced heat, which diffused to other brain structures, including the preoptic area. And, indeed, the extra heat worked to induce a continuous reduction of the core body temperature of the mice, lowering it from 0.3 to 0.5 degrees Celsius.

The scientists were then able to measure the effect of lowered core body temperature on lifespan, finding that the mice with lowered core body temperature had significantly longer median lifespan than those that didn't. While this effect was observed in both males and females, in this study the change was more pronounced in females-median lifespan was extended about 20 percent in females and about 12 percent in males.

The researchers performed several experiments to make sure that other factors were not contributing to the lowered core body temperature. They confirmed that the experimental mice were normal in their ability to generate fever, and that these mice moved around about the same amount as normal mice. In addition, the researchers verified that the hypocretin neurons producing uncoupling protein 2 were not involved in temperature regulation.

Importantly, the mice in this study were allowed to eat as much food as they wished, and the experimental and control mice ate the same amount. The weight of the female experimental and control mice did not differ significantly. However, experimental male mice weighed about 10 percent more than the control group, most likely reflecting the reduced energy required to maintain a lower core body temperature, according to the paper.

"Our model addresses something more basic than the amount of food," said Tamas Bartfai, who is chair of the Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department, director of the Harold L. Dorris Neurological
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
2-Nov-2006


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