Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Details Genetic Basis Of Aging -- And How It Might Be Delayed

Date:
August 31, 1999
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have, for the first time, profiled specific genetic changes during the aging of experimental animals, a discovery that could aid work to extend life span and preserve health.

MADISON, WISC. - Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have, for the first time, profiled specific genetic changes during the aging of experimental animals, a discovery that could aid work to extend life span and preserve health.

The work conducted with mice combines a powerful new genetic technique with dietary restriction, the only known way to delay the aging process. The research will be published Friday, Aug. 27, in the journal Science.

The study is a milestone in aging research, providing scientists with an intimate look at the ebb and flow of genetic activity with age, and the roles individual genes play in the process of growing old.

Moreover, it reveals how a low-calorie diet, the only known method of slowing aging in several animal species, works at the most basic level to extend life span and preserve health. Such knowledge, used in concert with new technologies capable of rapidly surveying the activity of thousands of genes at once, promises to accelerate the development of drugs that mimic the age-retarding effects of a low-calorie diet, according to the Wisconsin scientists.

The Wisconsin team, led by Tomas A. Prolla, a UW-Madison professor of genetics, and Richard Weindruch, a UW-Madison professor of medicine, profiled the action of 6,347 genes. The team charted changes in genetic activity in two groups of mice, one group on a standard diet and another group whose diet had been reduced to 76 percent of the standard diet.

"This study has analyzed more genes with regard to aging than all previous studies combined," Prolla said of the study that surveyed 5 to 10 percent of the mouse genome using a "gene chip" -- a small glass plate containing DNA that, when read with a laser, quickly reveals activity levels for thousands of individual genes.

The Wisconsin group found that, with age, the activity of a very small number of genes -- less than 2 percent of those surveyed -- changed markedly. But those genes govern critical biological tasks such as stress responses, protein repair and energy production, and they changed in big ways.

"At the molecular level, normal aging looks like a state of chronic injury," said Prolla.

However, in a big step forward in understanding how a reduced-calorie diet works to dramatically slow the physical manifestations of aging, many of the same genes that exhibited changes in activity with aging in mice on a standard diet remained almost completely intact in mice on a reduced diet.

"This is a leap in our understanding of how caloric restriction works," said Weindruch, a leading authority in the field of diet and aging. "There hasn't been much consensus on how caloric restriction retards aging."

Over many years, studies of several animal species have consistently shown that reduced diets -- 25 to 30 percent less than a typical diet -- retard aging, extend life span and improve overall health in old age.

The new study, Weindruch said, tends to support the idea that caloric restriction works by slowing metabolism, the chemical processes by which living organisms and cells convert food to energy.

In the process of metabolism, some toxic byproducts are produced, damaging proteins and triggering a stress response that acts to repair damaged molecules and that seems to be governed by a few select genes. But with age, the body's ability to repair damaged proteins declines, possibly as a result of shrinking cellular energy levels.

"Taken as a whole, our results provide evidence that during aging there is an induction of a stress response as a result of damaged proteins and other macromolecules," the Wisconsin scientists write in Science. "This response ensues as the systems required for the turnover of such molecules decline, perhaps as a result of an energetic deficit in the cell."

The Wisconsin group plans to extend its studies to monkeys and humans. UW-Madison, at its Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, is the site of a decade-old study of rhesus macaques on a reduced-calorie diet.

The new study, according to Weindruch, is important not only because it provides a genetic map of aging, but because it shows the potential of harnessing gene chip technology to screen for the effects of drugs on the process of growing old.

"It gives us a molecular test to see if an agent can affect the rate of aging," said Weindruch. "There are lots of implications. If we can understand the molecular mechanisms, we could perhaps develop drugs that mimic the effects of caloric restriction."

Prolla and Weindruch have filed for a patent covering the use of gene chip technology in aging research through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Study Details Genetic Basis Of Aging -- And How It Might Be Delayed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990831080844.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (1999, August 31). Study Details Genetic Basis Of Aging -- And How It Might Be Delayed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990831080844.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Study Details Genetic Basis Of Aging -- And How It Might Be Delayed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990831080844.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins