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Fighting diseases of aging by wasting energy
Date:12/4/2007

imple intervention affecting several age-related diseases is an attractive approach to decreasing the morbidity of growing old. They suspected that treatments designed to alter the efficiency of mitochondrial respiration might be one way to accomplish this.

Earlier studies had shown that young mice engineered to express modestly increased levels of UCP1 in skeletal muscle had a mildly increased metabolic rate, although they ate and grew normally. The animals muscles otherwise functioned as usual. In the new study, Semenkovichs group used these mice to determine whether respiratory uncoupling in skeletal musclea tissue that adapts to altered heat production and oxygen consumption during exercisecan affect age-related disease.

They found that animals with increased UCP1 only in skeletal muscle lived longer. Altered female animals also developed lymphoma, a type of cancer that originates in white blood cells called lymphocytes, less frequently. In mice genetically predisposed to vascular disease, the increase in UCP1 led to a decline in atherosclerosis in animals fed a western-type high-fat diet. Likewise, mice predisposed to developing diabetes and hypertension were relieved of those ailments by increased UCP1 in skeletal muscle. The uncoupled mice also had less body fat (or adiposity) and higher body temperatures and metabolic rates, among other biochemical changes.

The consequences of excess adiposity disproportionately affect older individuals, the researchers concluded. Excess adiposity can be treated through two simple approaches, decreasing energy intake or increasing energy consumption. Considerable effort is currently being devoted to the development of agents that decrease energy intake in hopes of decreasing adiposity and perhaps age-related disease. Our results indicate that increasing energy consumption in mice has beneficial effects on survival, vascular disease, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes. This intervention does not
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Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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