The Effects of Genetic Variants and Calorie Restriction on Aging
(image: By Nazrul Islam Ripon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
While aging is something that happens to everyone, scientists have been trying to determine the causes of aging, how to slow down the process, and ways to improve quality of life. There has been some interesting new research. First up, scientists, led by Paola Sebastiani out of the Boston University School of Public Health, have identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and new variants in chromosomes that seem to be associated with longevity and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. They looked at population and genetic data of individuals considered to have extreme longevity (those living past 95 in males and past 100 in females). Their meta-analysis confirmed the role of SNPs in the Apolipoprotein E gene on longevity that had been seen in previous studies. The team also discovered new longevity-associated variants (LAVs) on chromosomes 7 and 12 with genome-wide and nearly genome-wide significance.1
Next, a review on aging, led by Marie Amitani out of the Kagoshima University in Japan, explored the role of ghrelin on aging. Ghrelin is typically an orexigenic peptide known for its role in regulating energy balance and hunger. However, when calories are restricted, ghrelin levels increase, signaling a feeling of satiety. Research, starting as far back as 1935, has seen that calorie restriction contributes to longevity by decreasing oxidative stress. Levels of circulating ghrelin have also been shown to decrease with aging.2Perhaps, restricting calories will increase circulating ghrelin and decrease oxidative stress, thereby slowing the aging process.
- P. Sebastiani et al., J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 00 (00), 1 (2017). doi:10.1093/gerona/glx027
- M. Amitani et al., Int. J. Mol. Sci., 18, 1511 (2017). doi:10.3390/ijms18071511