Variations in gene MC1R explain why some people look more youthful than others.
Scientists have discovered the gene responsible for older looks. In other words, the gene may hold the key why some people look older than others.
The gene, called MC1R, is already known for having an impact on the color of skin and hair. Now, researchers have found that the variations in this gene may cause people to look either younger than their age or older than what they actually are. Research has found that those who carry the specific gene mostly look 2 years older than those who are the same age as they are but do not have the gene.
“For the first time a gene has been found that explains in part why some people look older and others younger for their age,” said co-author Manfred Kayser from Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam.
To find the DNA variants associated with aging looks, researchers examined the genomes of 2,700 older Dutch adults. The photographs of the participants were showed to the “assessors” to estimate their ages purely on the basis of their digital images. The next stage was to find the differences in the genes of those people who looked younger than their age.
It turned out that gene MC1R has a stronger connection with apparent aging features such as wrinkles and age spots. Older adults who carry the gene looked older than non-carriers.
“Looking young for one’s age has been a desire since time immemorial. The desire is attributable to the belief that appearance reflects health and fecundity. Understanding the underlying molecular biology of perceived age is vital age is vital for identifying new aging therapies among other purposes.” Study says.
Research was focused on perceived age rather than how old a person is and it does not account for other factors such as smoking, exposure to sun and body mass index which can also contribute in aging faces.
“The exciting part is we actually found the gene, and that we did the first time means we will be able to find more.” Kayser told BBC News.
“It is exciting because this is a well known phenomenon that so far cannot be explained – why do some people look so much younger?”
However, scientists are unable to explain how MC1R actually works and have such a profound effect on our perceived age.
“In the present study, we detected in Dutch Europeans a significant association between DNA variants in MC1R gene and perceived age, after removing the influence of age, sex and wrinkles,” Authors wrote in the study.
“In addition, we found little evidence that sun exposure was the main route through which MC1R gene variants were associating with perceived age.”