Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anti-aging creams: Is the 'longevity gene' nearing the end of its life?

Date:
September 22, 2011
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
Sirtuins, proteins believed to significantly increase lifespan in a number of organisms -- and the claimed target of some anti-aging creams -- do not, in fact, affect animal longevity, according to new research.

Sirtuins, proteins believed to significantly increase lifespan in a number of organisms -- and the claimed target of some anti-aging creams -- do not, in fact, affect animal longevity, according to new research funded by the Wellcome Trust and the European Union.

Sirtuins had previously been linked to aging and longevity in yeast, the nematode worm and the fruit fly, organisms commonly used as models for the biology of human aging. Researchers had shown that when the organism's genes overproduced sirtuin, its lifespan was significantly extended, in nematodes by as much as 50%.

Further research also highlighted a connection between sirtuins and dietary restriction. Dietary restriction -- significantly reducing the amount of nutrients consumed -- is known to extend lifespan in many organisms, including some mammals. Research suggested that it works by activating the production of sirtuins.

The studies caused much interest in both the scientific community and the media. Some dubbed the sirtuin-producing gene the 'longevity gene'. A number of anti-aging creams have been launched which contain resveratrol -- a plant derived drug found at trace levels in red wine which was claimed to activate sirtuins. However, subsequent research cast doubt on the claims that resveratrol is a sirtuin activator.

Now, a study published September 21 in the journal Nature, led by Dr David Gems and colleagues at the Institute of Healthy aging at UCL (University College London), provides almost conclusive evidence that the effects on animal longevity seen in earlier experiments were not in fact connected to sirtuin.

Dr Gems and colleagues, together with researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Semmelweis University, Budapest, first examined two different strains of nematode worm, each from a different prior study. The worms had been genetically manipulated so that the sirtuin gene was overactive.

As expected, these worms lived longer than the control 'wild-type' worms (that is, worms that had not been genetically manipulated). However, after precautions were taken to ensure that the only difference between control and test worms was the elevation of sirtuin levels, they found that the longevity disappeared. This implied that some other genetic factors must have caused the longevity initially seen. In one of the two original strains, they identified this as a mutation in a gene involved in the development of nerve cells.

Working with colleagues at the University of Michigan, the UK researchers then examined a transgenic version of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, in which the sirtuin levels were raised. This transgenic model had been the subject of earlier research which appeared to show that over-activation of sirtuins in the fruit fly increased longevity.

Dr Gems and colleagues were able to show that genetic factors other than sirtuins genes were the cause of the longevity. They also created a new strain of fruit fly with even higher sirtuin levels, but found that this was not long-lived either.

The researchers then prepared synthetic fruitfly sirtuin and tested whether it could be activated by resveratrol, as predicted by previous claims. However, neither the UK or US laboratories, each using several techniques, was able to show any activation.

Finally, the teams re-tested the claim that dietary restriction increases lifespan by activating sirtuins. Taking mutant fruit flies that lacked the sirtuin gene, the researchers showed that dietary restriction still increased lifespan. So, dietary restriction was working independently of sirtuins.

Dr Gems comments: "These results are very surprising. We have re-examined the key experiments linking sirtuin with longevity in animals and none seem to stand up to close scrutiny. Sirtuins, far from being a key to longevity appear to have nothing to do with extending life. But I think this is good news in a way: after all, revising old ideas can be as important as presenting new ones to assure scientific progress. This work should help to redirect scientific efforts toward those processes that really do control aging."

The Institute of Healthy aging at UCL was the recipient of a Ł5.9 million Wellcome Trust Strategic Award in 2007. Understanding the aging process and how it can lead to chronic disease forms part of one of the Wellcome Trust's strategic goals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Camilla Burnett, Sara Valentini, Filipe Cabreiro, Martin Goss, Milán Somogyvári, Matthew D. Piper, Matthew Hoddinott, George L. Sutphin, Vid Leko, Joshua J. McElwee, Rafael P. Vazquez-Manrique, Anne-Marie Orfila, Daniel Ackerman, Catherine Au, Giovanna Vinti, Michčle Riesen, Ken Howard, Christian Neri, Antonio Bedalov, Matt Kaeberlein, Csaba Sőti, Linda Partridge, David Gems. Absence of effects of Sir2 overexpression on lifespan in C. elegans and Drosophila. Nature, 2011; 477 (7365): 482 DOI: 10.1038/nature10296

Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Anti-aging creams: Is the 'longevity gene' nearing the end of its life?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921134524.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2011, September 22). Anti-aging creams: Is the 'longevity gene' nearing the end of its life?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921134524.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Anti-aging creams: Is the 'longevity gene' nearing the end of its life?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921134524.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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