Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.
October 27 2017. Research reported on October 26, 2017 in Cell Metabolism helps explain the effects of calorie restriction and activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK, an energy-sensing protein) on longevity. Harvard researchers have determined that AMPK and calorie restriction promote homeostasis and plasticity of networks formed by the cells’ power plants known as mitochondria.
Mitochondria networks change shape according to energy demand, however, this ability declines with age. “Dynamic remodeling of mitochondrial networks by fusion and fission promotes maintenance of cellular homeostasis,” explain Heather J. Weir and colleagues at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Dysregulation of mitochondrial dynamics and aberrant mitochondrial morphology are hallmarks of aging and are thought to contribute to the pathology of numerous age-related pathologies including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.”
By restricting calories in the diet ofroundworms or using a strain of roundworm in which an AMPK subunit is activated, the researchers found that the roundworms maintained a youthful fused mitochondrial network shape with age. The youthful networks lengthen life by communicating with peroxisomes within the cells to alter fat metabolism.
“Low-energy conditions such as dietary restriction and intermittent fasting have previously been shown to promote healthy aging,” Dr Weir commented. “Understanding why this is the case is a crucial step towards being able to harness the benefits therapeutically. Our findings open up new avenues in the search for therapeutic strategies that will reduce our likelihood of developing age-related diseases as we get older.”
“Although previous work has shown how intermittent fasting can slow aging, we are only beginning to understand the underlying biology,” added senior author William Mair. “Our work shows how crucial the plasticity of mitochondria networks is for the benefits of fasting. If we lock mitochondria in one state, we completely block the effects of fasting or dietary restriction on longevity.”