Pten Gene Linked to Longevity and Weight in Mice

Mice with extra copies of gene are protected from cancer, have increased energy expenditure

TUESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- Mice carrying extra copies of an anti-cancer gene, Pten, live longer, are protected from cancer, and have hyperactive brown fat, according to an experimental study published in the March 7 issue of Cell Metabolism.

Noting that one of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase type I (PI3K) pathways regulates aging in worms and flies, and that Pten counteracts PI3K, Ana Ortega-Molina, from the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid, and colleagues investigated the role of Pten in mice by generating mice carrying additional copies of the Pten gene.

The researchers found that the mice were protected from cancer and lived significantly longer, the latter being independent of the cancer protection. The mice were also protected from insulin resistance and diet-induced steatosis. They weighed less and had increased energy expenditure and protection from metabolic pathologies; in addition, their brown adipose tissue was hyperactive. Increased energy expenditure and hyperactivation of brown adipose tissue was also induced by a synthetic PI3K inhibitor.

"These observations uncover a role of Pten in promoting energy expenditure, thus decreasing nutrient storage and its associated damage," Ortega-Molina and colleagues conclude.

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