Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anti-diabetic drug slows aging and lengthens lifespan, animal study suggests

Date:
June 2, 2014
Source:
KU Leuven
Summary:
Researchers have provided new evidence that metformin, the world’s most widely used anti-diabetic drug, slows aging and increases lifespan.Scientists teased out the mechanism behind metformin's age-slowing effects: the drug causes an increase in the number of toxic oxygen molecules released in the cell and this, surprisingly, increases cell robustness and longevity in the long term.

Roundworms treated with metformin show very limited size loss and no wrinkling.
Credit: Copyright Wouter De Haes

A study by Belgian doctoral researcher Wouter De Haes (KU Leuven) and colleagues provides new evidence that metformin, the world's most widely used anti-diabetic drug, slows aging and increases lifespan.

In experiments reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers tease out the mechanism behind metformin's age-slowing effects: the drug causes an increase in the number of toxic oxygen molecules released in the cell and this, surprisingly, increases cell robustness and longevity in the long term.

Mitochondria -- the energy factories in cells -- generate tiny electric currents to provide the body's cells with energy. Highly reactive oxygen molecules are produced as a by-product of this process.

While these molecules are harmful because they can damage proteins and DNA and disrupt normal cell functioning, a small dose can actually do the cell good, say the researchers: "As long as the amount of harmful oxygen molecules released in the cell remains small, it has a positive long-term effect on the cell. Cells use the reactive oxygen particles to their advantage before they can do any damage," explains Wouter De Haes. "Metformin causes a slight increase in the number of harmful oxygen molecules. We found that this makes cells stronger and extends their healthy lifespan."

It was long thought that harmful reactive oxygen molecules were the very cause of aging. The food and cosmetics industries are quick to emphasize the 'anti-aging' qualities of products containing antioxidants, such as skin creams, fruit and vegetable juices, red wine and dark chocolate.

But while antioxidants do in fact neutralize harmful reactive oxygen molecules in the cell, they actually negate metformin's anti-aging effects because the drug relies entirely on these molecules to work.

The researchers studied metformin's mechanism in the tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, an ideal species for studying aging because it has a lifespan of only three weeks. "As they age, the worms get smaller, wrinkle up and become less mobile. But worms treated with metformin show very limited size loss and no wrinkling. They not only age slower, but they also stay healthier longer," says Wouter De Haes. "While we should be careful not to over-extrapolate our findings to humans, the study is promising as a foundation for future research."

Other studies in humans have shown that metformin suppresses some cancers and heart disease. Metformin could even be an effective drug for counteracting the general effects of aging, say the researchers.

The study was carried out by Wouter De Haes under the supervision of Liesbet Temmerman and Professor Liliane Schoofs (KU Leuven) and in close collaboration with Professor Bart Braeckman (Ghent University).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Wouter De Haes, Lotte Frooninckx, Roel Van Assche, Arne Smolders, Geert Depuydt, Johan Billen, Bart P. Braeckman, Liliane Schoofs, and Liesbet Temmerman. Metformin promotes lifespan through mitohormesis via the peroxiredoxin PRDX-2. PNAS, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1321776111

Cite This Page:

KU Leuven. "Anti-diabetic drug slows aging and lengthens lifespan, animal study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602150724.htm>.
KU Leuven. (2014, June 2). Anti-diabetic drug slows aging and lengthens lifespan, animal study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602150724.htm
KU Leuven. "Anti-diabetic drug slows aging and lengthens lifespan, animal study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602150724.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) 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:
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