Scientists find trigger to help prevent aging

Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon may never have found the fountain of youth, but scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have discovered a way to help prevent aging and disease by triggering a transcription factor, the CREB (cAMP response element binding)-binding protein (CRP), that controls the activity of genes that regulate cellular function.1

CRP is triggered by dietary restrictions that affect the body's glucose metabolism. There was no difference in the type of dietary restrictions imposed, low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate, as long as the total number of calories consumed was decreased.

"We discovered that CBP predicts lifespan and accounts for 80% of lifespan variation in mammals," says Charles Mobbs, PhD, professor of neuroscience and of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "Finding the right balance is key; only a 10% restriction will produce a small increase in lifespan, whereas an 80% restriction will lead to a shorter life due to starvation."

The research team found an optimal dietary restriction, estimated to be equivalent to a 30% caloric reduction in mammals, increased lifespan over 50% while slowing the development of an age-related pathology similar to Alzheimer's disease.

The second part of the study demonstrated that a higher-calorie diet that leads to diabetes inhibits the production of CBP and increases the effects of aging.

Researchers suggest that developing drugs that mimic the protective effects of CBP — those usually caused by dietary restriction — scientists may be able to extend lifespan and reduce vulnerability to age-related illnesses.

Reference

1. Zhang M, Poplawski M, Yen K, et al. (2009) Role of CBP and SATB-1 in Aging, Dietary Restriction, and Insulin-Like Signaling. PLoS Biol. 2009; 7(11): e1000245.