Monday, September 23, 2013

Why Humans Live So Long

Perhaps, Finch says, the ancient gene variant that ramped up our inflammatory response and boosted the chances of our survival to the age of reproduction—APOE e4—came with a steep, deferred cost: heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases of aging. In fact, APOE e4 appears to be a classic case of something biologists call antagonistic pleiotropy, in which a gene has a strong positive effect on the young and an adverse impact on the old. “I think these are very intriguing ideas,” says Steven Austad, a biologist and gerontologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “And what evidence we have supports them.”

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