The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is an important model for studying the genetics of ageing, with over 50 life-extension mutations known so far. However, little is known about the pathobiology of ageing in this species, limiting attempts to connect genotype with senescent phenotype. Using ultrastructural analysis and visualization of specific cell types with green fluorescent protein, we examined cell integrity in different tissues as the animal ages.
Caloric restriction (CR) may retard aging processes and extend lifespan in organisms by altering energy-metabolic pathways. In CR rodents, glucose influx into tissues is not reduced, as compared with control animals fed ad libitum (AL), although plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin are lower. Gene expression profiles in rodents have suggested that CR promotes gluconeogenesis and fatty acid biosynthesis in skeletal muscle. In the liver, CR promotes gluconeogenesis but decreases fatty acid synthesis and glycolysis.
For nearly 70 years it has been recognized that reduction in caloric intake by 30-40% from ad libitum levels leads to a significant extension of mean and maximal lifespan in a variety of short-lived species. This effect of caloric restriction (CR) on lifespan has been reported in nearly all species tested and has been reproduced hundreds of times under a variety of different laboratory conditions. In addition to prolonging lifespan, CR also prevents or delays the onset of age-related disease and maintains many physiological functions at more youthful levels.
NaCT (sodium-coupled citrate transporter) is an Na(+)-coupled citrate transporter identified recently in mammals that mediates the cellular uptake of citrate. It is expressed predominantly in the liver. NaCT is structurally and functionally related to the product of the Indy (I'm not dead yet) gene in Drosophila, the dysfunction of which leads to lifespan extension. Here, we show that NaCT mediates the utilization of extracellular citrate for fat synthesis in human liver cells, and that the process is stimulated by lithium.
Molecular advances of the past decade have led to the discovery of a myriad of 'aging genes' (methuselah, Indy, InR, Chico, superoxide dismutase) that extend Drosophila lifespan by up to 85%. Despite this life extension, these mutants are no longer lived than at least some recently wild-caught strains. Typically, long-lived mutants are identified in relatively short-lived genetic backgrounds, and their effects are rarely tested in genetic backgrounds other than the one in which they were isolated or derived.
A major challenge in current research into aging using model organisms is to establish whether different treatments resulting in slowed aging involve common or distinct mechanisms. Such treatments include gene mutation, dietary restriction (DR), and manipulation of reproduction, gonadal signals and temperature. The principal method used to determine whether these treatments act through common mechanisms is to compare the magnitude of the effect on aging of each treatment separately with that when two are applied simultaneously.
Caloric restriction (CR) and a reduced growth hormone (GH)-insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) axis are associated with an extension of lifespan across taxa. Evidence is reviewed showing that CR and reduced insulin of GH-IGF-1 axis may exhibit their effects at least partly by their common stimulatory action on autophagy, the cell repair mechanism responsible for the housekeeping of cell membranes and organelles including the free radical generators peroxisomes and mitochondria.
A review of biochemical mechanisms underlying the known approaches to extension of lifespan and/or slowing down of ageing suggests that they all modify balances between generation of active oxygen and carbonyl species and the mechanisms that protect from their damaging effects or repair their consequences. A likely common target of the geroprotector effects of antioxidants, melatonin, and antidiabetic biguanides is the mitochondrial respiratory chain.
Particulate drug carriers offer unique opportunities to improve tumor therapy through several different mechanisms. Liposomes may (1) assist in formulation of poorly-soluble therapeutic agents, (2) provide a slow-release vehicle to achieve pharmacokinetic profiles that maximize the therapeutic index, or (3) behave as long-circulating nano-particulates that can extravasate in the hyperpermeable regions of tumor vasculature. For paclitaxel, liposomes provide an aid to formulation.
Calorie restriction extends lifespan in organisms ranging from yeast to mammals. In yeast, the SIR2 gene mediates the life-extending effects of calorie restriction. Here we show that the mammalian SIR2 orthologue, Sirt1 (sirtuin 1), activates a critical component of calorie restriction in mammals; that is, fat mobilization in white adipocytes. Upon food withdrawal Sirt1 protein binds to and represses genes controlled by the fat regulator PPAR-gamma (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma), including genes mediating fat storage.