It is widely understood that women tend to outlive men and a new study has a clue to what causes women to have longer lives. Scientists studied the DNA in fruit flies because their aging and other biological processes are eerily similar to those of other animals across the animal kingdom, including human beings.
“Our results indicate that the mitochondrial mutation loads affecting male aging generally comprise numerous mutations over multiple sites,” the scientists wrote.
In male fruit flies, they found a mutation in their mitochondrial DNA, which regulates energy, affects the rapidness of aging and the length of their lives. “All animals possess mitochondria, and the tendency for females to outlive males is common to many different species,” said Damian Dowling, senior author of the study. “Our results therefore suggest that the mitochondrial mutations we have uncovered will generally cause faster male aging across the animal kingdom. Intriguingly, these same mutations have no effects on patterns of aging in females. They only affect males.”
According to Medical News Today, mitochondrial DNA comes from the egg, unlike cellular DNA which comes from both the sperm and the egg. Also, the defect that might lead to aging in males is unable to be eliminated by natural selection, leaving males susceptible.
“If a mitochondrial mutation occurs that harms fathers, but has no effect on mothers, this mutation will slip through the gaze of natural selection, unnoticed,” Dowling remarked. “Over thousands of generations, many such mutations have accumulated that harm only males, while leaving females unscathed.”
Dowling hopes unearthing this information will lead to a solution that will leave men healthy and alive for a little longer. “What we seek to do now is investigate the genetic mechanisms that males might arm themselves with to nullify the effects of these harmful mutations and remain healthy,” Dowling concluded.