Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research explains action of drug that may slow aging, related disease

Date:
May 20, 2014
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
A proven approach to slow the aging process is dietary restriction, but new research helps explain the action of a drug that appears to mimic that process -- rapamycin. The advance moves science closer to a compound that might slow aging and reduce age-related disease. The lead researcher said that this study "could provide a way not only to increase lifespan but to address some age-related diseases and improve general health."

This study suggests that a combination of rapamycin and another drug to offset that increase in insulin resistance might provide the benefits of this medication without the unwanted side effect. "It could provide a way not only to increase lifespan but to address some age-related diseases and improve general health," Perez said.
Credit: perfectmatch / Fotolia

A proven approach to slow the aging process is dietary restriction, but new research in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University helps explain the action of a drug that appears to mimic that process -- rapamycin.

Rapamycin, an antibiotic and immunosuppressant approved for use about 15 years ago, has drawn extensive interest for its apparent ability -- at least in laboratory animal tests -- to emulate the ability of dietary restriction in helping animals to live both longer and healthier.

However, this medication has some drawbacks, including an increase in insulin resistance that could set the stage for diabetes. The new findings, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, help to explain why that happens, and what could be done to address it.

They suggest that a combination of rapamycin and another drug to offset that increase in insulin resistance might provide the benefits of this medication without the unwanted side effect.

"This could be an important advance if it helps us find a way to gain the apparent benefits of rapamycin without increasing insulin resistance," said Viviana Perez, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the OSU College of Science.

"It could provide a way not only to increase lifespan but to address some age-related diseases and improve general health," Perez said. "We might find a way for people not only to live longer, but to live better and with a higher quality of life."

Age-related diseases include many of the degenerative diseases that affect billions of people around the world and are among the leading causes of death: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

Laboratory mice that have received rapamycin have reduced the age-dependent decline in spontaneous activity, demonstrated more fitness, improved cognition and cardiovascular health, had less cancer and lived substantially longer than mice fed a normal diet.

Rapamycin, first discovered from the soils of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui in the South Pacific Ocean, is primarily used as an immunosuppressant to prevent rejection of organs and tissues. In recent years it was also observed that it can function as a metabolic "signaler" that inhibits a biological pathway found in almost all higher life forms -- the ability to sense when food has been eaten, energy is available and it's okay for cell proliferation, protein synthesis and growth to proceed.

Called mTOR in mammals, for the term "mammalian target of rapamycin," this pathway has a critical evolutionary value -- it helps an organism avoid too much cellular expansion and growth when energy supplies are insufficient. That helps explain why some form of the pathway has been conserved across such a multitude of species, from yeast to fish to humans.

"Dietary restriction is one of the few interventions that inhibits this mTOR pathway," Perez said. "And a restricted diet in laboratory animals has been shown to increase their lifespan about 25-30 percent. Human groups who eat fewer calories, such as some Asian cultures, also live longer."

Aside from a food intake in laboratory mice that's about 40 percent fewer calories than normal, however, it's been found that another way to activate this pathway is with rapamycin, which appears to have a significant impact even when used late in life. Some human clinical trials are already underway exploring this potential.

A big drawback to long-term use of rapamycin, however, is the increase in insulin resistance, observed in both humans and laboratory animals. The new research identified why that is happening. It found that both dietary restriction and rapamycin inhibited lipid synthesis, but only dietary restriction increased the oxidation of those lipids in order to produce energy.

Rapamycin, by contrast, allowed a buildup of fatty acids and eventually an increase in insulin resistance, which in humans can lead to diabetes. However, the drug metformin can address that concern, and is already given to some diabetic patients to increase lipid oxidation. In lab tests, the combined use of rapamycin and metformin prevented the unwanted side effect.

"If proven true, then combined use of metformin and rapamycin for treating aging and age-associated diseases in humans may be possible," the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Collaborators included researchers from Oklahoma University Health Science Center, the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, University of Michigan-Flint, and South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

"There's still substantial work to do, and it may not be realistic to expect with humans what we have been able to accomplish with laboratory animals," Perez said. "People don't live in a cage and eat only the exact diet they are given. Nonetheless, the potential of this work is exciting."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Z. Yu, R. Wang, W. C. Fok, A. Coles, A. B. Salmon, V. I. Perez. Rapamycin and Dietary Restriction Induce Metabolically Distinctive Changes in Mouse Liver. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glu053

Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Research explains action of drug that may slow aging, related disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520142416.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2014, May 20). Research explains action of drug that may slow aging, related disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520142416.htm
Oregon State University. "Research explains action of drug that may slow aging, related disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520142416.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
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