Hypoxia – a new key to longevity?

Scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have found that reducing oxygen intake can increase the lifespan of lab mice, especially those that age faster. This opens up new perspectives in anti-aging therapy.

The experiments were carried out on mice that have a special mutation that leads to accelerated aging. The scientists compared the lifespan of mice living at normal levels of atmospheric oxygen (about 21%) with the lifespan of mice that were transferred to a live environment with a lower oxygen content (11%) at the age of 4 weeks. This level of oxygen is typical for areas at an altitude of about five thousand meters.

The results of the study showed that mice in an oxygen-limited environment lived about 50% longer than mice with normal oxygen levels – 23.6 weeks compared to 15.7 weeks. Oxygen-limited mice also delayed the onset of neurological deficits associated with aging.

These results support the anti-aging potential of oxygen limitation in mammals, possibly including humans. However, scientists warn that extensive additional research will be needed to understand the potential benefits and find the molecular mechanisms by which it acts.

In addition, previous studies have shown that dietary restriction can also increase the lifespan of rapidly aging mice. Oxygen restriction did not affect food intake, suggesting other mechanisms were involved.

One of the main questions that remain open is how oxygen restriction affects the body. Scientists suggest that this may be due to a decrease in stress at the cellular level, as well as an increase in the production of mitochondria, organelles that play an important role in cellular respiration and energy metabolism.

Even though the study was done in mice, the scientists believe the results could apply to humans as well. Some people are already using hypoxic training—training with limited oxygen—to improve fitness and endurance. Perhaps in the future this will become one of the methods of combating aging.

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