Calorie restriction linked to key enzyme that could delay aging, disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Calorie restriction linked to key aging enzyme
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An enzyme that holds the key to aging has been identified. Scientists at University of Gothenburg have pinpointed an enzyme that deactivates with aging and leads to genetic damage associated with growing older. The researchers also found calorie restriction can keep the enzyme active, which slows the aging process.

In their study, scientists found calorie restriction slows down aging by keeping the enzyme peroxiredoxin, from being inactivated.

In the study, researchers were able to show for the first time how consuming fewer calories extends lifespan.

Past studies in monkeys have shown a calorie restricted diet that includes adequate vitamins and minerals extended lifespan in the primates. Other studies have been done on fish, rats, fungi, flies and yeast with positive results.

In the current study, the researchers used yeast to show peroxiredoxin 1, Prx1, must be active to break down harmful hydrogen peroxide in the cells during calorie restriction.

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The research team found restricting calories boosted the action of another enzyme called Srx1, which repairs Prx1. They also found it’s possible to delay aging by just increasing Srx1, which can be accomplished without calorie restriction.

It might also be possible to thwart cancer with fewer calories, say the researchers.

Mikael Molin of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology explains, "Impaired Prx1 function leads to various types of genetic defects and cancer. Conversely, we can now speculate whether increased repair of Prx1 during ageing can counteract, or at least delay, the development of cancer."

Now the researchers want to find out if other age related diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease could be delayed by boosting peroxiredoxin in the cells.

The new study identifies a key enzyme responsible for aging and shows calorie restriction helps keep the enzyme activated. The authors say consuming fewer calories not only could lead to a longer life, but might also help prevent major diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and other age related conditions.

Molecular Cell, Volume 43, Issue 5, 823-833, 2 September 2011

Image credit: Morguefile

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