Adopting the eunuch lifestyle slows down aging – at least for sheep • The Register

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If you’re a gentleman looking to counter the effects of aging, a new sheep study might have the answer – but you’re going to have to say goodbye to your family jewels in exchange for slowing the aging process of your DNA.

“Farmers and scientists have known for some time that castrated male sheep live on average much longer than their intact counterparts,” said first author Victoria Sugrue, a doctoral student in anatomy at the University of Otago. “However, this is the first time that someone has examined DNA to see if it is also aging more slowly.”

Key to the study – more important than the boffins wielding knives cutting sheep’s balls here and there, anyway – was the concept of an “epigenetic clock,” a means of measuring the aging of DNA in human beings. creatures. In sheep, the researchers found that the clock runs slower for castrated males than for those left untouched in lower regions.

“We have developed a way to measure the biological age of a wide range of mammals – we have looked at over 200 species so far and found surprising commonalities in which animals age,” said Steve Horvath, professor. at the University of California at Los Angeles and inventor. of epigenetic clock concept. “But the sheep study was unique in that it specifically isolated the effects of male hormones on aging.”

The researchers hope their work will have wider implications, but perhaps not that it can encourage anyone interested in a radical life extension to a little self-surgery with the kitchen scissors – especially since it doesn’t It has not yet been determined whether the same effect can be observed in humans.

Nonetheless, the study is positioned as a key discovery for the mechanisms of what scientists call “accelerated aging by men”. “We found that males and females have very different patterns of DNA aging in sheep,” said team co-leader Tim Hore, PhD, “and that despite the fact that they being males, barrows – beavers – had very feminine characteristics at specific DNA sites.

“Interestingly, the sites most affected by castration also bind to male hormone receptors in humans at a much higher rate than one might expect by chance. This provides a clear link. between castration, male hormones and gender differences in DNA aging. “

Hore also pointed out Shrek, a Merino sheep from Cental Otago who escaped gatherings for six years – growing a 27kg fleece in the process. The castrated sheep lived to the age of 16: “By the time Shrek was caught he was already 10 years old, roughly the maximum age of the most perennial sheep on a commercial farm,” he said. Hore explained. “I think at least part of Shrek’s fame was simply that he lived so long – something that certainly wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been castrated.”

The full article was published in the journal eLife, But El Reg accepts no responsibility if readers decide to take over the experiment – or, in fact, pants. ®


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