New research suggests that mice living in an environment with less oxygen can live around 50% longer compared to those in regular oxygen levels. These oxygen-restricted mice also showed signs of reduced aging-related neurological issues at a later stage.
Despite these findings, the study did not determine the precise way in which reduced oxygen levels extend lifespan.
Potential of oxygen restriction
Scientists studying ways to increase the duration of healthy living have discovered various substances and interventions that display encouraging results in laboratory animals, such as the drug metformin and dietary restriction.
Previous research has indicated that limiting oxygen intake can extend the lifespan of yeast, nematodes, and fruit flies. However, its impact on mammals has remained a mystery.
In order to investigate the potential of oxygen restriction in combating aging in mammals, a team led by Robert Rogers conducted laboratory experiments using mice specially bred to age at an accelerated rate, exhibiting typical signs of aging observed in mammals across their bodies.
Study design and workings
In their investigation, the scientists compared the lifespans of mice residing in typical oxygen levels found in the atmosphere (approximately 21%) with those living in an oxygen-restricted environment.
The latter group was introduced to this environment at four weeks of age and experienced a lower oxygen concentration (11%), resembling conditions found at an altitude of 5000 meters.
According to Robert Rogers, the lead scientist of the study, “We find that chronic continuous hypoxia (11% oxygen, equivalent to what would be experienced at Everest Base Camp) extends lifespan by 50% and delays the onset of neurologic debility in a mouse aging model.”
He further said, “While caloric restriction is the most widely effective and well-studied intervention to increase lifespan and healthspan, this is the first time that ‘oxygen restriction’ has been demonstrated as beneficial in a mammalian aging model.”
For the first time, researchers have shown that reduced oxygen intake, or “oxygen restriction,” is associated with longer lifespan in lab mice, highlighting its anti-aging potential. pic.twitter.com/vkamxLwZPn
— The Financial Express (@febdonline) May 24, 2023
Impact of oxygen restriction on aging in mammals
The results revealed that the mice in the oxygen-restricted environment enjoyed a significantly longer lifespan of approximately 50% compared to their counterparts in normal oxygen levels.
Their median lifespan was recorded at 23.6 weeks, while the mice in regular oxygen levels lived up to 15.7 weeks. Furthermore, the mice subjected to oxygen restriction experienced a delay in the onset of age-related neurological issues.
Previous studies have demonstrated that restricting dietary intake can extend the lifespan of these same mice, known for their accelerated aging process. As a result, the researchers pondered whether the extended lifespan observed in oxygen-restricted mice was due to increased food consumption.
However, their investigations revealed that oxygen restriction did not have an impact on the mice’s food intake, indicating the involvement of other mechanisms.
These findings lend support to the notion that oxygen restriction holds the potential for combating aging in mammals, including humans. However, further comprehensive research is necessary to clarify the precise benefits it may offer and shed light on the underlying molecular mechanisms involved.