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 July 22, 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 July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) — Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) — Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
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