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Evolution of Longevity as a Species-Specific Trait in Mammals

Gregory A. Shilovsky1,2,a*, Tatyana S. Putyatina1, and Alexander V. Markov1

1Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119234 Moscow, Russia

2Institute for Information Transmission Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, 127051 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received October 10, 2022; Revised November 17, 2022; Accepted November 21, 2022
From the evolutionary point of view, the priority problem for an individual is not longevity, but adaptation to the environment associated with the need for survival, food supply, and reproduction. We see two main vectors in the evolution of mammals. One is a short lifespan and numerous offspring ensuring reproductive success (r-strategy). The other one is development of valuable skills in order compete successfully (K-strategy). Species with the K-strategy should develop and enhance specific systems (anti-aging programs) aimed at increasing the reliability and adaptability, including lifespan. These systems are signaling cascades that provide cell repair and antioxidant defense. Hence, any arbitrarily selected long-living species should be characterized by manifestation to a different extent of the longevity-favoring traits (e.g., body size, brain development, sociality, activity of body repair and antioxidant defense systems, resistance to xenobiotics and tumor formation, presence of neotenic traits). Hereafter, we will call a set of such traits as the gerontological success of a species. Longevity is not equivalent to the evolutionary or reproductive success. This difference between these phenomena reaches its peak in mammals due to the development of endothermy and cephalization associated with the cerebral cortex expansion, which leads to the upregulated production of oxidative radicals by the mitochondria (and, consequently, accelerated aging), increase in the number of non-dividing differentiated cells, accumulation of the age-related damage in these cells, and development of neurodegenerative diseases. The article presents mathematical indicators used to assess the predisposition to longevity in different species (including the standard mortality rate and basal metabolic rate, as well as their derivatives). The properties of the evolution of mammals (including the differences between modern mammals and their ancestral forms) are also discussed.
KEY WORDS: evolution, phenoptosis, lifespan, aging, anti-aging programs, oxidative stress, age-related disorders, Nrf2, gerontological success, longevity quotient

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297922120148