In a recent post here at Deskarati that pointed to a hidden code in DNA, we mentioned our interest in the idea that there was some other mechanism passing on traits. This new research offers a bit more grist to the mill – Deskarati –
We know that our environment — what we eat, the toxic compounds we are exposed to — can positively or negatively impact our life span. But could it also affect the longevity of our descendants, who may live under very different conditions? Recent research from the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests this could be the case.
Blocking or modifying the expression of any of three key proteins in a laboratory roundworm increases the life span of not only the original animal, but also that animal’s descendents, the researchers found. This occurs even though the original modification is no longer present in the descendants. The finding is the first to show that longevity can be inherited in a non-genetic manner over several generations.
It’s tempting to translate the findings to humans, who share similar proteins with those studied in the worms in this work. While much more investigation is needed, the research at least hints at the possibility that modifications that occurred in your great-grandparents, perhaps as a result of diet or other environmental conditions, will affect your own life span.