Here’s What Makes a Super-Ager

Here’s What Makes a Super-Ager

New research indicates that at least some of it is out of your control.

Aging is a mystery. Some people seem to lose their physical and mental abilities rather early on. Others look like the energizer bunny with batteries that seem to to keep them going, going and going and then some.

Can it all be attributed to lifestyle? Is it all about eating more kale, socializing and hitting up the local fitness classes, like they suggest?

Maybe so, and maybe not. While it’s always a great idea to stay healthy, new research suggests there’s more to it.

A study conducted by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has found that having a great memory as you grow older could be something that’s inherited.

And it all comes down to one particular gene.

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“This study suggests that SuperAgers may have a genetic ‘leg up’ on the normal aging population-they may have higher resistance to age-related cognitive changes” said Dr. Matt Huentelman, Ph.D., TGen Professor of Neurogenomics, and the study’s lead author.

Researchers sequenced the genomes of 56 SuperAgers in the hunt for genetic variations.

(‘SuperAgers’ are those individuals 80 years or older who score at or above average on memory and cognitive tests. In fact, they get better results than adults aged 50-65).

Researchers then compared the results to a control group of 22 cognitively average individuals, as well as to a large group of individuals from the general population.

What was found? SuperAgers are enriched for genetic changes in the MAP2K3 gene.

“Based on our findings, we postulate MAP2K3 inhibitors may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for enhanced cognition and resistance to Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Emily J. Rogalski, Ph.D., the study’s senior author.

More studies are set for the future before the findings can be called conclusive, but it looks hopeful. Now if they can figure out how to make us all superstars, we’d be one step ahead.

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