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University of Michigan researchers discover link between stress in early life development and extended lifespan

Researchers found production of oxidants increased resistance to stress

Jakob and Bazopoulou worked with C. elegans round worms during their research.
Jakob and Bazopoulou worked with C. elegans round worms during their research. (Pixabay)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – University of Michigan researchers have discovered that a bit of stress early on in life may lead to an extended lifespan.

According to recent research conducted in the Jakob Lab by scientists Dr. Ursula Jakob and Daphne Bazopoulou, oxidative stress experienced earlier in life may actually cause a build up resistance to stress later in life.

Oxidative stress, which produces oxidants and free radicals within cells, is often associated with aging, exercise and nutrition restrictions.

While genetics is often attributed as a marker of longevity, environment and other factors are also known to play roles.

For their research, Jakob, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and Bazopoulou, a postdoctoral fellow in Jakob’s lab, conducted experiments on Caenorhabditis elegans roundworms.

Using the worms, the researchers found that worm larvae exposed to stressful conditions during development produced more oxidants and lived longer than their counterparts who did not.

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Jakob and Bazopoulou used the worms because, although the larvae are genetically identical, they are easily changed by environmental and other random factors. The worms also contain a histone modifier that is present in mammalian cells.

In addition to producing more reactive oxidants, larvae that were stressed during development experienced a change in the shared histone modifier - a modifier acting on histone proteins - which could lead to research in mammalian cells.

The researchers published their findings, along with additional authors, in the international science journal Nature.

To view learn more about the research being done at the University of Michigan’s Jakob Lab, which focuses on studying the biochemical reactions of oxidative stress, visit its website here.


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