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.
Significant extension of lifespan in important mammalian species is bound to attract the attention not only of the aging research community, but also the media and the wider public. Two recent papers published by Harrison et al. (2009) in Nature and by Colman et al. (2009) in Science report increased longevity of mice fed with rapamycin and of rhesus monkeys undergoing caloric restriction, respectively. These papers have generated considerable debate in the aging community.
Dietary restriction (DR), typically a 20%-40% reduction in ad libitum or "normal" nutritional energy intake, has been reported to extend life span in diverse organisms, including yeast, nematodes, spiders, fruit flies, mice, rats, and rhesus monkeys. The magnitude of the life span enhancement appears to diminish with increasing organismal complexity. However, the extent of life span extension has been notoriously inconsistent, especially in mammals. Recently, Mattison et al. reported that DR does not extend life span in rhesus monkeys in contrast to earlier work of Colman et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Dengue virus (DENV) is considered to be the most important arthropod-borne viral disease and causes more than 100 million human infections annually. To further characterize primary DENV infection in vivo, rhesus macaques were infected with DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, or DENV-4 and clinical parameters, as well as specificity and longevity of serologic responses, were assessed. Overt clinical symptoms were not present after infection.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression by targeting specific mRNAs. Altered expression of circulating miRNAs have been associated with age-related diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Although we and others have found an age-dependent decrease in miRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), little is known about the role of circulating miRNAs in human aging.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
A fundamental question in the basic biology of aging is whether there is a universal aging process. If indeed such a process exists, one would expect that it develops at a higher rate in short- versus long-lived species. We have quantitated pentosidine, a marker of glycoxidative stress in skin collagen from eight mammalian species as a function of age. A curvilinear increase was modeled for all species, and the rate of increase correlated inversely with maximum life-span.
Toxicological Sciences: An Official Journal of the Society of Toxicology
Caloric restriction (CR) increases maximum life span in rodents while attenuating the development of age-associated pathological and biological changes. Although nearly all of the rodent studies have initiated CR early in life (1-3 months of age), CR, when started at 12 months of age, also extends maximum life span in mice. Two main questions face investigators of CR. One concerns the mechanisms by which CR retards aging and diseases in rodents. There is evidence that CR may act, at least in part, by reducing oxidative stress.
Dietary energy restriction is the only proven method for extending lifespan and slowing aging in mammals, while maintaining health and vitality. Although the first experiments in this area were conducted over 60 y ago in rodents, possible applicability to primates has only been examined in controlled studies since 1987. Our project at the National Institute on Aging began with 3-0 male rhesus and 30 male squirrel monkeys of various ages over their respective life spans.
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).