GENES AND AGING: THE MOLECULAR STRATEGY THAT EXTENDS LIFESPAN

  • by: Valter Longo Foundation Editorial Staff
  • April 29th, 2020

In order to understand how to stay young, first and foremost, it is necessary to know the mechanisms that underlie and regulate longevity. Aside from our genetic makeup, which at the moment cannot be altered, other strategies can have regener-ative and rejuvenating effects, and can help us achieve a long and healthy life. This is mainly achieved by having a well-balanced diet that keeps our body healthy and strong.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON AGING

Several scholars around the world have concentrated their research on aging systems. In the beginning, laboratory experiments were carried out on mice and human sub-jects, but these organisms are too complex to be able to quickly identify the genes responsible for aging and understand how they act. As a result, attention has been shifted to a unicellular organism: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, more commonly known as yeast. These or-ganisms can be easily found, studied, and genetically modified. Thanks to the study of the “Chronological life span of yeast“, it was possible to identify the genes responsible for aging.

From studies conducted on Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Dr. Valter Longo found that by starving yeast, or by moving cells from a sugar-rich environment to a water-only environment, they lived twice as long. In addition, Longo has discovered that sugar is the nutrient that causes yeast to age and die faster, by activating the RAS and PKA genes, but also by inactivating factors and enzymes that protect it from oxidizing. The next step was to identify the entire “sugar metabolic pathway” in the aging process, which is mainly regulated by growth hormones. Subsequently, studies were conducted on worms, resulting in the discovery of other genes that regulate aging, including DAF-2 and TOR-S6K.

THE MOLECULAR STRATEGY THAT EXTENDS LIFESPAN

The discoveries on yeasts and worms led to the speculation that living organisms age in a similar way, and that the “molecular strategies” for extending life are analogous. Later, these hypotheses were confirmed by studies conducted on mice. It was found that the same genes and metabolic pathways also protect humans from ag-ing-related diseases. These results came from a survey conducted in Ecuador by analyzing a group of people suffering from a particular type of dwarfism, Laron syndrome, cha-racterized by the absence of the growth hormone. A study found that there is a very low incidence of diabetes and cancer among these individuals, despite having a bad life-style and an irregular diet. It is assumed that individuals affected by Laron syndrome, which have mutations of the growth hormone receptor, are protected from aging-related diseases. Hence, the confirmation that similar genes control aging both in unicellular organisms, such as yeasts, and in multicellular ones, such as humans.

Follow us on FACEBOOK @VALTERLONGOLONGEVITY to find out more about having a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.

SOURCES:

  1. Valter Longo, La dieta della longevità, Vallardi Editore 2016
  2. Longo VD et al.; Replicative and chronological aging in Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Cell Metabolism 2012 Jul.
  3. Hu J et al.; Assessing chronological aging in Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Methods Mol Biol. 2013
  4. Longo VD, Fabrizio P.; Chronological aging in Saccharomyces cerevisiae; SubcellBiochem. 2012
  5. Dorman JB et al.; The age-1 and daf-2 genes function in a common pathway to control the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans; Genetics. 1995 Dec;141(4):1399-406
  6. Gottlieb S, Ruvkun G.; daf-2, daf-16 and daf-23: genetically interacting genes controlling Dauer formation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics.1994 May
  7. Hu J et el.; Tor-Sch9 deficiency activates catabolism of the ketone body-like acetic acid to promote trehalose accumulation and longevity; Aging Cell. 2014 Jun.
  8. Guevara-Aguirre J et al..; GH Receptor Deficiency in Ecuadorian Adults Is Associated With Obesity and Enhanced Insulin Sensitivity; J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015Jul.

By Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus editorial staff
Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus aims to make scientific dissemination by raising awareness among the scientific and non-scientific community of a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition through the production of explanatory scientific articles, textual, infographics and multimedia content, and the dissemination of clinical activities scientific, informative and educational aspects of the Foundation and its team of professionals. Dietary pathways, scientific discoveries, clinical studies, treatments and technologies, national and international awareness events, prevention initiatives as well as Longevity recipes are just some of the topics addressed in articles and in-depth interviews published daily and written in collaboration with the Foundation’s specialists. Also active on social networks, Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus editorial staff also offers a monthly newsletter sent to all members, to stay up to date on the most interesting news related to the world of Health, Nutrition and Longevity.
Contributors:
Romina Inés Cervigni
Alessandra Fedato
Maria Liliana Ciraulo
Corinna Montana Lampo
Cristina Villa
Contact: press@valterlongo.com or + 39 02 2513 8307

Join our NEWSLETTER

Join our Newsletter to stay updated with the Foundation projects and new advances in diseases prevention and treatment.