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Geriatrics - Physiology

Further Support to the Uncoupling-to-Survive Theory: The Genetic Variation of Human UCP Genes Is Associated with Longevity
Published: Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Author: Giuseppina Rose et al.

by Giuseppina Rose, Paolina Crocco, Francesco De Rango, Alberto Montesanto, Giuseppe Passarino

In humans Uncoupling Proteins (UCPs) are a group of five mitochondrial inner membrane transporters with variable tissue expression, which seem to function as regulators of energy homeostasis and antioxidants. In particular, these proteins uncouple respiration from ATP production, allowing stored energy to be released as heat. Data from experimental models have previously suggested that UCPs may play an important role on aging rate and lifespan. We analyzed the genetic variability of human UCPs in cohorts of subjects ranging between 64 and 105 years of age (for a total of 598 subjects), to determine whether specific UCP variability affects human longevity. Indeed, we found that the genetic variability of UCP2, UCP3 and UCP4 do affect the individual's chances of surviving up to a very old age. This confirms the importance of energy storage, energy use and modulation of ROS production in the aging process. In addition, given the different localization of these UCPs (UCP2 is expressed in various tissues including brain, hearth and adipose tissue, while UCP3 is expressed in muscles and Brown Adipose Tissue and UCP4 is expressed in neuronal cells), our results may suggest that the uncoupling process plays an important role in modulating aging especially in muscular and nervous tissues, which are indeed very responsive to metabolic alterations and are very important in estimating health status and survival in the elderly.