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.
Reduction of nutrient intake without malnutrition positively influences lifespan and healthspan from yeast to mice and exerts some beneficial effects also in humans. The AMPK-FoxO axis is one of the evolutionarily conserved nutrient-sensing pathways, and the FOXO3A locus is associated with human longevity. Interestingly, FoxO3A has been reported to be also a mitochondrial protein in mammalian cells and tissues. Here we report that glucose restriction triggers FoxO3A accumulation into mitochondria of fibroblasts and skeletal myotubes in an AMPK-dependent manner.
Aging is an inevitable biological process that affects most living organisms. Despite the enormous consequences associated with the aging process, until recently, relatively little systematic effort has been expended on the scientific understanding of this important life process. Society, however, urged by an ever increasing older population, is challenging scientists from many disciplines to explore one of nature's most complex phenomena-biological aging.
Restricting the food intake of mice and rats to well below that of ad libitum-fed animals markedly slows the aging processes. This action is reflected in an increase in longevity, a decrease in the age-associated increase in age-specific mortality rate, the maintenance of the physiological processes in a youthful state even at advanced ages, and the delaying of the onset or slowing of the progression or both of most age-associated diseases. The dietary factor responsible is the reduction in energy (caloric) intake.
Chronic caloric restriction (CR) has been demonstrated to increase longevity in lower species and studies are ongoing to evaluate its effect in higher species. A consistent metabolic feature of CR is improved insulin sensitivity and lowered lifetime glycemia, yet the mechanism responsible is currently unknown. However, the membrane's physiochemical properties, as determined by phospholipid composition, have been related to insulin action in animal and human studies and CR has been reported to alter membrane lipid content.
Dietary caloric restriction (CR) is the only intervention conclusively and reproducibly shown to slow aging and maintain health and vitality in mammals. Although this paradigm has been known for over 60 years, its precise biological mechanisms and applicability to humans remain unknown. We began addressing the latter question in 1987 with the first controlled study of CR in primates (rhesus and squirrel monkeys, which are evolutionarily much closer to humans than the rodents most frequently employed in CR studies).
In a long-term longitudinal study of aging in rhesus monkeys, a primary objective has been to determine the effects of aging and caloric restriction (CR) on behavioral and neural parameters. Through the use of automated devices, locomotor activity can be monitored in the home cages of the monkeys. Studies completed thus far indicate a clear age-related decline in activity consistent with such observations in many other species, including humans. However, no consistent effects of CR on activity have been observed.
Hardly an aspect of aging is more important than an organism's ability to withstand stress or to resist both internally and externally imposed insults. We know that as organisms loose their ability to resist these insults, aged organisms suffer more than the young. Therefore, a prime strategy for an organism's survival has been the evolutionarily adapted defense systems that guard against insult. For better survivability, an organism's defense system must be maximized to its full effect through well-coordinated networks of diverse biologically responsive elements.