Current Opinion in Investigational Drugs (London, England: 2000)
SIRT1 (sirtuin 1) is the human ortholog of the yeast Sir2 (silent information regulator 2) protein, which is implicated in lifespan extension in model organisms, such as yeast, worms and flies. It is an NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase with over two dozen known substrates that affect a wide variety of cellular processes, ranging from metabolism, cell cycle, growth and differentiation, inflammation, senescence, apoptosis, stress response and aging.
The focus here is on research involving long-term calorie restriction (CR) to prevent or delay the incidence of the metabolic syndrome with age. The current societal environment is marked by overabundant accessibility of food coupled with a strong trend to reduced physical activity, both leading to the development of a constellation of disorders including central obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and hypertension (metabolic syndrome). Prolonged CR has been shown to extend median and maximal lifespan in a variety of lower species (yeast, worms, fish, rats, and mice).
Homeostasis is a key feature of cellular lifespan. Maintenance of cellular homeostasis influences the rate of aging and its efficiency is determined by the cooperation between protein stability and resistance to stress, protein refolding, protein repair and proteolysis of damaged proteins. Protein degradation is predominately catalyzed by the proteasome which is responsible for cell clearance of abnormal, denatured or in general damaged proteins as well as for the regulated degradation of short-lived proteins.
Over the last 10?years, various screens of small molecules have been conducted to find long sought interventions in aging. Most of these studies were performed in invertebrates but the demonstration of pharmacological lifespan extension in the mouse has created considerable excitement. Since aging is a common risk factor for several chronic diseases, there is a reasonable expectation that some compounds capable of extending lifespan will be useful for preventing a range of age-related diseases.
There is considerable interest in identifying small, drug-like compounds that slow aging in multiple species, particularly in mammals. Such compounds may prove to be useful in treating and retarding age-related disease in humans. Just as invertebrate models have been essential in helping us understand the genetic pathways that control aging, these model organisms are also proving valuable in discovering chemical compounds that influence longevity.
Pioneering work in model organisms reveals that the reproductive system is involved not only in propagation of the species but also regulates organismal metabolism and longevity. In C. elegans, prevention of germline stem cell proliferation results in a 60% extension of lifespan, termed gonadal longevity. Gonadal longevity relies on the transcriptional activities of steroid nuclear receptor DAF-12, the FOXO transcription factor homolog DAF-16, the FOXA transcription factor homolog PHA-4, and the HNF-4-like nuclear receptor NHR-80.
Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein consisting of a catalytic subunit, the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), and an integrally associated RNA that contains a template for the synthesis of short repetitive G-rich DNA sequences at the ends of telomeres. Telomerase can repetitively reverse transcribe its short RNA template, acting processively to add multiple telomeric repeats onto the same DNA substrate. The contribution of enzyme processivity to telomere length regulation in human cells is not well characterized.
The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
BACKGROUND: Observational studies have demonstrated similarities between the underpinning of frailty and biological features of centenarians, suggesting that adaptability to age-related multiple physiological decline may be a core component of successful aging. The aim of this study is to determine whether hormonal pathways potentially involved in energy homeostasis contribute to survival beyond 100 years of age.
During the last decade, studies aimed at investigating genes and molecular pathways involved in aging have been very fruitful and led to the identification of several mechanisms responsible for aging. Overall, those results put forward the capacity of cells and organisms to sense and respond to stress, as a critical factor for a healthy and long life. Those molecular pathways are tightly linked with the overall metabolism of an organism.