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Pain and Longevity

May 26, 2014

Blocking chronic pain could slow down the aging process.



A painless route to a long life. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Pain and inflammation, even at levels that aren’t debilitating, may shorten life span. UC Berkeley biologist Andrew Dillin and his colleagues report in the journal Cell that blocking a pain receptor called TRPV1 allows mice to live fifteen percent longer.

Andrew Dillin (University of California, Berkeley):

These animals are growing normally, they reproduce normally, and they’re living fifteen percent longer, which, you know, an 80-year-old person, that would be an extra 12 years.


The TRPV1 receptor activates a protein called CGRP that affects metabolism. Dillin says that may be the key. In fact, rodents called naked mole rats lack CGRP, and live over six times longer than regular rats. Dillin’s lab is focusing on CGRP, with the ultimate goal of seeing if blocking it can similarly extend the life and vigor of humans. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.