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Key to longer life (in flies) lies in just 14 brain cells
Date:9/20/2007

ived about 15 to 20 percent longer. Bauer ran the experiment again and again and got the same result.

Bauer and Helfand then wanted to know if this was caloric restriction at work. Studies have shown that low-calorie diets can significantly increase the lifespan of flies, worms, mice and rats. The phenomenon is of intense interest to researchers who study aging. They want to know if caloric restriction works in people and if drugs could be made to mimic its effects.

So researchers restricted the diets of the flies and ran the same experiments. The calorie-restricted flies didnt live any longer when p53 was reduced in the insulin-producing cells. This evidence supports the notion that p53 reduction is one of the direct effects of caloric restriction.

Even more intriguing, Helfand said, is the fact that the 14 insulin-producing cells that seem to be critical for lifespan extension are the equivalent of beta cells in the human pancreas. Beta cells make and release insulin, the hormone that controls the level of glucose in the blood. The research team found that when p53 activity drops, so does insulin-responsive activity in the fat body, the major metabolic organ in the fruit fly.

Our findings suggest that lifespan regulation is linked to metabolic regulation, said Helfand, a professor in Browns Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry. The findings also suggest a tight connection between aging and diabetes. And we may have a new laboratory model for studying diabetes and other metabolic diseases.


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Contact: Wendy Lawton
Wendy_Lawton@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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