07 November 2011

The source of eternal youth was found in the intestines of fruit flies

One of the real methods of increasing life expectancy is to follow a low-calorie diet. New data obtained in experiments on fruit flies by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Research and the University of California, Los Angeles, working under the guidance of Associate Professor Lynn Jones (Leanne Jones), partially clarify the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon and the effects of aging on the behavior of stem cells.

Experts have long known that limiting the caloric content of the diet can increase the lifespan of a wide range of organisms. In some studies, a low-calorie diet made it possible to prolong the life of experimental animals by more than two times compared to conventional indicators.

Earlier studies devoted to the study of this phenomenon have shown that the cells of "starving" organisms are characterized by an increased number of mitochondria – organelles that break down carbohydrates and fats with the release of energy necessary to ensure the vital activity of the cell. In mammalian and fruit fly cells, the number of mitochondria in a cell is regulated by the activity of the PGC-1 gene.

This relationship prompted scientists to study the consequences of the forced increase in the activity of the PGC-1 gene. To do this, they created genetically modified fruit flies with increased activity of the corresponding analogue of this gene dPGC-1. Fruit flies were chosen as the object of research due to their short life span, which allows them to study the mechanisms of longevity, which is very difficult when working with long-lived organisms.

The results showed that the increased activity of dPGC-1 increased the number of mitochondria and intensified energy production in drosophila cells. A similar phenomenon is observed in the cells of organisms on a low-calorie diet. Selective enhancement of the activity of the dPGC-1 gene in stem cells and progenitor cells that renew the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract improved the health of insects. At the same time, their life expectancy increased, depending on the degree of increased gene activity, by 20-50%.

The intestinal tissue of young fruit flies (left) is characterized by a high degree of organization, which can be seen by the uniform distribution of cells of various types, each of which corresponds to a certain color. As insects age, this order gradually deteriorates. The reason for this is the increased activity of cells and the inability to form cells that perform specialized functions. Researchers have demonstrated that activation of the PGC-1 gene slows down this process, while increasing the lifespan of fruit flies.

According to Jones, slowing down the aging of one important organ, in this case, the intestine, can have a huge impact on the health of the body as a whole and life expectancy.

Based on the data obtained, the researchers concluded that targeted enhancement of PGC-1 gene activity in tissues characterized by active division and high rate of cell renewal can form the basis of effective methods to slow down the aging process and combat age-related diseases.

Article by Michael Rera et al. Modulation of Longevity and Tissue Homeostasis by the Drosophila PGC-1 Homolog is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the Salk Institute: Fruit fly intestine may hold secret to the fountain of youth.


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