Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Free radicals: What doesn't kill you may make you live longer

Date:
May 8, 2014
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
What is the secret to aging more slowly and living longer? Not antioxidants, apparently. Many people believe that free radicals, the sometimes-toxic molecules produced by our bodies as we process oxygen, are the culprit behind aging. Yet a number of studies in recent years have produced evidence that the opposite may be true. A team of researchers discovered that free radicals -- also known as oxidants -- act on a molecular mechanism that, in other circumstances, tells a cell to kill itself.

Many people believe that free radicals, the sometimes-toxic molecules produced by our bodies as we process oxygen, are the culprit behind aging. Yet a number of studies in recent years have produced evidence that the opposite may be true.
Credit: © chaiyon021 / Fotolia

What is the secret to aging more slowly and living longer? Not antioxidants, apparently.

Related Articles


Many people believe that free radicals, the sometimes-toxic molecules produced by our bodies as we process oxygen, are the culprit behind aging. Yet a number of studies in recent years have produced evidence that the opposite may be true.

Now, researchers at McGill University have taken this finding a step further by showing how free radicals promote longevity in an experimental model organism, the roundworm C. elegans. Surprisingly, the team discovered that free radicals -- also known as oxidants -- act on a molecular mechanism that, in other circumstances, tells a cell to kill itself.

Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, is a process by which damaged cells commit suicide in a variety of situations: to avoid becoming cancerous, to avoid inducing auto-immune disease, or to kill off viruses that have invaded the cell. The main molecular mechanism by which this happens is well conserved in all animals, but was first discovered in C. elegans -- a discovery that resulted in a Nobel Prize.

The McGill researchers found that this same mechanism, when stimulated in the right way by free radicals, actually reinforces the cell's defenses and increases its lifespan. Their findings are reported in a study published online May 8 in the journal Cell.

"People believe that free radicals are damaging and cause aging, but the so-called 'free radical theory of aging' is incorrect," says Siegfried Hekimi, a professor in McGill's Department of Biology and senior author of the study. "We have turned this theory on its head by proving that free radical production increases during aging because free radicals actually combat -- not cause -- aging. In fact, in our model organism we can elevate free radical generation and thus induce a substantially longer life."

The findings have important implications. "Showing the actual molecular mechanisms by which free radicals can have a pro-longevity effect provides strong new evidence of their beneficial effects as signaling molecules," Hekimi says. "It also means that apoptosis signaling can be used to stimulate mechanisms that slow down aging." "Since the mechanism of apoptosis has been extensively studied in people, because of its medical importance in immunity and in cancer, a lot of pharmacological tools already exist to manipulate apoptotic signaling. But that doesn't mean it will be easy."

Stimulating pro-longevity apoptotic signaling could be particularly important in neurodegenerative diseases, says Hekimi. In the brain the apoptotic signaling might be particularly tilted toward increasing the stress resistance of damaged cells rather than killing them, explains Hekimi. That's because it is harder to replace dead neurons than other kinds of cells, partly because of the complexity of the connections between neurons.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Callista Yee, Wen Yang, Siegfried Hekimi. The Intrinsic Apoptosis Pathway Mediates the Pro-Longevity Response to Mitochondrial ROS in C. elegans. Cell, 2014; 157 (4): 897 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.055

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Free radicals: What doesn't kill you may make you live longer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508121245.htm>.
McGill University. (2014, May 8). Free radicals: What doesn't kill you may make you live longer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508121245.htm
McGill University. "Free radicals: What doesn't kill you may make you live longer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508121245.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) 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