Where the Wild Things Are: Scientists Head to the Zoo to Determine if Cell Size Affects Lifespan

Led by Hebrew University’s Yuval Dor, researchers in Israel, Canada, and Germany found that animals with larger pancreatic cells tend to age faster, while those with smaller cells seem to live longer.

A chance observation in the lab sparked the researchers’ interest in further examining the pancreatic cell sizes of animals beyond humans and mice. This led Dor and the team to neighbouring labs located at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and Kimron Veterinary Institute. They studied the pancreases of 24 mammalian species from the tiny shrew to the tall giraffe. By analysing the data, the scientists found a strong negative correlation between the size of individual pancreatic cells and lifespan. Mammalian species that aged faster had larger cells, whereas species that lived longer had smaller pancreatic cells.

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