New mathematical model illustrates link between energy use and aging

February 1, 2016 by Peter Ehrhard
New mathematical model illustrates link between energy use and aging

Why does a great dane have a shorter lifespan than a pug? The answer lies in a complex relationship between energy usage and lifespan. That relationship is quickly being unraveled through the use of numerical modeling by a researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

By using the principles of conservation and allometric scaling laws, Dr. Chen Hou has developed a theoretical model that can measure aging on the basis of energy expenditure. Hou has found that growth carries a tradeoff with health maintenance, and that previous research in the area is not as straightforward as once thought.

"Past studies of have yielded conflicting results when comparing different species and introducing diet restrictions," says Hou, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T. "My model shows that energy used during growth is the key to understanding longevity."

Hou's research shows that oxidative metabolism affects cellular damage and longevity in different ways in animals with different life histories and under varying experimental conditions. For example, he compares the birth mass of a greater Swiss mountain dog to that of a silky terrier as an example. A greater Swiss is born at only one percent of its final weight, whereas the terrier already weighs in at eight percent of its final weight at birth. That percentage difference means that the greater Swiss must use more energy to grow to full adulthood, relatively less energy for health maintenance and therefore have a shorter lifespan than the terrier.

"If you were able to suppress or manipulate growth to maintain a smaller stature, the animal would live longer and have more energy for health maintenance – the way the body repairs itself," says Hou. "On the other hand, 'catch-up' growth, referring to individuals with low birth weight reaching or exceeding normal weight later in life, often has negative impacts on adult health outcome and lifespan."

Hou's research is based on a variety of studies, including works on cellular damage; correlations between growth rate, metabolic rate and lifespan; and the effects of diet restriction and genetic modification, and cold temperature and exercise stresses on lifespan.

His most recent work on the subject, "On the complex relationship between and longevity: Reconciling the contradictory empirical results with a simple theoretical model," was published in the journal Mechanisms of Aging and Development.

Explore further: The Building Blocks of Life

More information: Chen Hou et al. On the complex relationship between energy expenditure and longevity: Reconciling the contradictory empirical results with a simple theoretical model, Mechanisms of Ageing and Development (2015). DOI: 10.1016/j.mad.2015.06.003

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dogbert
not rated yet Feb 01, 2016
If energy expenditure is predictive of aging, I wonder if a lower metabolic rate is also predictive of longevity?
krundoloss
not rated yet Feb 01, 2016
It may be. The whole concept leads you to an idea that keeps coming back - Life as a mechanism for transferring and using energy. You exist as a living being, and as such it is your duty to use and transfer energy, and the quantity at which you do so affects your lifespan. I didn't consider growth as such a major part of the equation, but this article ties that in also. That shows true in humans also, anyone who is exceptionally large will not live as long, while smaller healthy people can live much longer.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2016
krindoloss,

I believe that taller humans tend to live longer than shorter ones. Excepting, of course, giantism, which does shorten lifespan.
promile
Feb 01, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2016
krindoloss,

I believe that taller humans tend to live longer than shorter ones. Excepting, of course, giantism, which does shorten lifespan.
Vietvet
5 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2016
krindoloss,

I believe that taller humans tend to live longer than shorter ones. Excepting, of course, giantism, which does shorten lifespan.


"FINDINGS SUGGESTING THAT SHORT STATURE IS HEALTHIER"
http://www.ncbi.n...1071721/

"Height in mid-life is positively associated with mortality, with shorter stature predicting longer lifespan."
http://journals.p....0094385
dogbert
5 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2016
Vietvet,

I was misinformed by some earlier studies correlating height with longevity. The current studies point to a negative correlation with increased height and longevity.

Thanks for the correction.

This may mean I have more time than I thought.
Scroofinator
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2016
Caloric intake also has to be considered, as digestion is one of the most energy intensive functions a body does.
EyeCandyAthlete
not rated yet Feb 04, 2016
While I commend Dr. Hou's efforts, I believe his model to be flawed, simply due to a common arithmetic error. It doesn't take into account a new number I invented, blurpteen (1ƃ). It's the sum of all quantities between 19 and 11ƃ. I've concluded that the easiest way to keep from getting old, regardless of energy usage, would be to just invent my own numbers. I'm blurpteen years old. Who says I can't invent my own numbers? Besides my age, it's also useful for engineering calculations, salary negotiations, paying your taxes, and getting out of speeding tickets. Maybe I should make it a prime #?

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