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article imageCooler temperatures may affect lifespan

By Tim Sandle     Jan 2, 2019 in Science
Do cooler temperatures alter lifespan of an animal? This question does not appear to have a general answer and is instead linked to the genes of an organism,
The reason that researchers have been looking at the impact of temperature on animals is to explore part of the conundrum 'why do we age?', a question for which there is no conclusive answer. One thing that is known is that temperature plays a role. As it stands, several animal species appear to live longer at lower temperature compared with higher temperatures.
This ecological observation has led to various 'health' theories, such as if you take a cold shower every day it will extend your lifespan. However, this assertion has been hard to back up with any scientific data. The theory goes that low temperature is considered to decrease metabolic rate, which functions to slow the accumulation of cellular damage from reactive oxygen species. Nonetheless, this has framed some recent research undertaken by Dr. Kristin Gribble, form the U.S. Marine Biological Laboratory.
The researchers have concluded that lifespan is something not simply based on reducing temperature; instead it relates to genetics. The research was conducted on Brachionus rotifers - a genus of planktonic rotifers occurring in freshwater, alkaline and brackish water. Rotifers are microscopic and near-microscopic pseudocoelomate animals.
The observations showed that low temperature had an affect on lifespan, however the median lifespan increase ranged from six percent to 100 percent across the strains. It follows, according to the researchers (interviewed by Laboratory Manager magazine), that change in lifespan under low temperature is likely actively controlled by specific genes.
The research findings have been published in the journal Experimental Gerentology. The research paper is titled "Congeneric variability in lifespan extension and onset of senescence suggest active regulation of aging in response to low temperature."
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