Exercise and a high level of activity in old age can prolong human life for the reason that they upregulate NRF1 gene that protects the ends of DNA molecules from damage.
Telomeres are the end segments of chromosomes located in the nucleus of each cell of the human body. Telomeres protect the DNA from damage. At each cell division, they become shorter when the length is insufficient for the new division, the cell dies.
More recently, scientists have discovered that telomere length and their condition can vary not only with age but also for various processes in the body are associated with depression, poverty and stress. While the stronger were the symptoms of the mental disorder and the longer they remained, the shorter were the telomeres.
Annabelle Decottignies (Anabelle Decottingnies) of the University of Leuven in Brussels (Belgium) and her colleagues unexpectedly found out how telomeres are associated with charging and why moderate sports can extend the life of the person.
They studied how the cell reads the telomeres and produces special TERRA molecules that interfere with specific enzyme telomerase to fix the end portions of chromosomes at a time when it is not divided, which usually leads to very unpleasant consequences.
Watching the cell cultures in a test tube, scientists unexpectedly discovered that the rise and fall of the concentration of molecules TERRA depended on two genes and their associated proteins, NRF1 and PPAR-gamma. The first is responsible for the so-called nuclear cell respiration and controls the metabolism of the whole organism, the conducting behavior of mitochondria, the cellular power plants, and adjusting the levels of antioxidants in the body. The second gene is responsible for storage of fat, appetite and several other aspects of metabolism.
Both of these DNA in our body during charging, and intense physical activity that gave scientists the idea to check how their activation affects the state of the telomere and the work of TERRA molecules in the human body. To do this, researchers recruited a group of several volunteers who pedaled a stationary bike for 45 minutes and then gave samples of saliva and blood.
As shown by this experiment, playing sports really helped to increase the number of TERRA molecules in the nucleus of human body cells, thereby improving protection of telomeres from damage.
A similar mechanism enable the system protection of telomeres, according to biologists can explain why an active lifestyle and charging can extend the life of a man, especially in the elderly.
In addition, this same system is not under high loads, but also by limiting the number of calories in the diet that may also explain why low-calorie diet extended the lives of mice in several experiments conducted in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.