大脑佛一点,活得久一点

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栗子 鱼羊 发自 凹非寺
量子位 报道 | 公众号 QbitAI

△ 来自功夫熊猫

佛系一点,活得更久。

人类常常这样以为,只是苦于没有证据。

但现在,Nature发表的一篇新论文告诉我们,这真的有科学道理。

人体内有些基因,是和神经过度活跃相关的。

哈佛医学院领衔的团队发现,活到85-100岁的人,比起只活到80 岁以内的人,这些基因的表达明显更少。

他们又证明指出,关键是一种叫做REST的蛋白质,抑制了这类基因的表达。在线虫、小鼠和人类的身上,这都得到了印证。

于是,一种抗衰老的原理,就此诞生了。

Harvard Gazette 还评价说:这项研究首次证明了神经系统真的会影响寿命。

所以,真·生命在于“休息”啊。

长寿关键:神经活跃度

在人类身上做的实验,用到了数百个捐赠的大脑,都是“在认知上没有缺陷 (Cognitively Intact) ”的大脑。也就是说,这些人去世之前,大脑还是健康的。

下图显示,70-80 岁85-101 岁两个组,大脑皮层的基因转录组,有明显不同的特征

注:转录组不同,用基因生成各种蛋白质的能力就不同,也就是基因表达的程度不同。

红是基因表达水平提高,蓝是基因表达水平降低。85-101 岁,多是上蓝下红;70-80 岁,多是上红下蓝:

 

被抑制了的基因,有这些 (b-d 是三个部位的大脑皮层) ,它们都和神经活动有关:

这样就知道,长不长寿,是基因转录出现了差别。

然后便要探索,是什么影响了转录。

科学家们联想到从前有研究提到:一种叫 REST 的转录因子,对防止神经过度兴奋可能有帮助。

是不是它抑制了大脑的过度神经活动 (从而延长寿命) ?

这件事在人类身上不容易得到证实,但 REST 这种蛋白质,是哺乳动物身上广泛存在的,所以团队先用小鼠做了实验。

结果令人兴奋,果然有相关性:

REST 有缺陷的小鼠,比正常大鼠的大脑皮层活动更强,神经兴奋性也更高 (红 e) 。

那么,神经活动增强了,更容易兴奋了,就会影响寿命么?

小鼠寿命比较长,不便观察。而秀丽隐杆线虫身上,也有和 REST 同源的基因,spr-3spr-4

实验证明,当这些基因变异之后丧失了功能,长寿线虫变体 (daf-2) 的寿命就变短了:

 

不止是实验室培育的突变线虫,在野生线虫当中,spr-4 的过度表达抑制了兴奋,延长了寿命。

也向延缓衰老更进一步

不止于寿命长短。

这项研究还揭示了神经兴奋和衰老之间联系,还指出了胰岛素 /IGF1 整合神经活动、以及代谢的途径。

这种整合能够调整生物的生理机能,优化生物的适应性,提高生存率。

此外,通过缓和神经兴奋的整体变化,在神经网络活动中保持适当的平衡,REST 还可以预防与年龄有关的神经系统疾病(比如老年痴呆),从而延长人类的寿命。

不过,先别忙着放空大脑,坐等活到 99。

论文的通讯作者 Yankner(扬克纳)严肃表示:

这项研究还未经临床试验,锻炼人类大脑和大脑过度兴奋之间的界限,还需进一步探索。

 

锻炼大脑的活动,和导致大脑过度兴奋的活动,是不一样的。

锻炼大脑有助于建立新的神经网络,激活积极(positive)的神经生长因子,对人们的学习和记忆能力有着积极的影响。

所以学学新语言,新乐器,探索生活中新的乐趣,是有益的。

而大脑过度兴奋,则可能直接导致阿尔茨海默症(老年痴呆症)和躁郁症这样的神经疾病。

 

但这两者之间的界限到底在哪里,目前,科学家们还无法给出确切答案。

扬克纳还指出,现在这个阶段,没准临床医生们的高明医术对于延长人们的寿命还更有用一些。

总之,问题还有很多,人类仍需努力。

不过研究人员相信,进一步探明 REST 蛋白对长寿的作用,将推动相关靶向药物的研发,新的治疗手段值得期待。

甚至还有人开玩笑说,在药物研发成功之前,“冥想”、“放空”可能也不失为好尝试。

作者预感一大波诈骗将至

人类对于长寿这件事的执着,几乎伴随着整个人类发展史。

论文作者亦深谙此道,因此扬克纳不忘提出严正警告

不要相信任何以这种方式进行自我营销的公司。

科学家们不太可能开发出“REST 补充剂”之类的神奇药丸来延长人们的寿命,扬克纳说:

人们追求最新补品这种潮流的危险在于,他们会产生这样的想法:哦,因为我有补品,我不用锻炼身体,我可以狂吃垃圾食品。这样的生活方式会杀了他们,补品根本挽救不了。

想要活得久,健康的生活方式才是基础。

而科学家们,也将继续探索青春的秘密,希望早日真正实现延年益寿。

祝每一位读者多佛多寿~

传送门

论文地址:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02958-x

自然报道:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02958-x

其他参考资料:

https://www.inverse.com/article/60177-scientists-pinpoint-neural-activity-s-role-in-human-longevity

发帖时间: news

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