Credit By: The Week
Restricting calories is a well-known practice for improving health and increasing lifespan. While its positive effects are acknowledged, the intricate mechanisms behind its impact on the brain have long remained a mystery. Scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have recently made significant strides in uncovering the role of OXR1 in the lifespan extension associated with dietary restriction, shedding light on the crucial link between calorie restriction and healthy brain ageing.
The Brain’s Response to Caloric Restriction
The study, published in Nature Communications on January 11, 2024, reveals that dietary restriction triggers a specific gene, OXR1, essential for the observed lifespan extension. Contrary to common assumptions that calorie restriction mainly affects the digestive tract or fat accumulation, this research emphasizes the importance of OXR1 in the brain’s response to reduced caloric intake.
Cellular Mechanism Unveiled
The scientists detailed a cellular mechanism through experiments conducted in fruit flies and human cells, providing insights into how dietary restriction delays ageing and slows the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. The findings open avenues for potential therapeutic targets that could be instrumental in combating ageing-related neurodegenerative conditions.
The team identified a neuron-specific response responsible for mediating the neuroprotection induced by dietary restriction. This discovery supports the notion that strategies like intermittent fasting or caloric restriction, which limit nutrient intake, may enhance the expression of the OXR1 gene, thus providing protective effects for the brain.
OXR1 and Retromer
The gene OXR1, also known as “mustard” in fruit flies, was singled out due to its critical role in protecting cells from oxidative damage. The study uncovered its connection to a cellular complex called the retromer, which is crucial for recycling cellular proteins and lipids. Dysfunction in the retromer has been linked to age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, conditions that are known to be mitigated by dietary restriction.
Implications and Future Directions
Understanding the variability in individual responses to dietary restriction, the research team aims to identify compounds that can elevate OXR1 levels during ageing, potentially delaying brain ageing. The study emphasizes the broader impact of diet on various physiological processes, reinforcing the importance of maintaining a healthy diet for overall well-being.
As the scientific community delves deeper into the intricacies of dietary restriction, the OXR1 gene emerges as a key player in the complex interplay between caloric intake, brain health, and lifespan. The study sets the stage for future investigations into specific compounds that can manipulate OXR1 levels, offering potential interventions for age-related neurodegenerative diseases and further highlighting the profound impact of diet on the ageing process.
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