Credit By: Neuroscience News
Dietary restriction, a practice known to enhance health and increase lifespan, has long intrigued scientists. However, the mechanisms through which it protects the brain and contributes to longevity have remained elusive. A recent study conducted by researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging sheds light on this mystery, highlighting the role of a gene called OXR1 in the lifespan extension observed with dietary restriction and its crucial role in promoting healthy brain aging.
The research team, led by Buck postdoc Kenneth Wilson and co-senior authors Professors Pankaj Kapahi and Lisa Ellerby, delved into the intricate details of cellular mechanisms influenced by dietary restriction. By conducting experiments in fruit flies and human cells, the scientists identified a neuron-specific response that underlies the neuroprotection offered by dietary restriction.
Unveiling the Cellular Mechanism
The study unveiled the involvement of the gene OXR1 in the neuroprotection associated with dietary restriction. OXR1 plays a vital role in maintaining the retromer, a complex responsible for recycling cellular proteins and lipids. Dysregulation of the retromer has been linked to age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, conditions that are mitigated by dietary restriction.
Impact on Brain Aging and Lifespan
Wilson emphasized, “This work shows that the retromer pathway, which is involved in reusing cellular proteins, has a key role in protecting neurons when nutrients are limited.” The preservation of retromer function by OXR1 is identified as a pivotal factor contributing to healthy brain aging and the extension of lifespan associated with dietary restriction.
Gene Expression and Dietary Influence
The study suggests that dietary choices impact the expression of the OXR1 gene. Consuming fewer calories enhances the expression of OXR1, facilitating the proper sorting of proteins within cells. The findings underscore the interconnectedness of diet, gene expression, and cellular processes, advocating for a holistic understanding of the impact of diet on overall health.
As the researchers delve deeper into the implications of their findings, the potential therapeutic targets identified in this study open avenues for further exploration. The team aims to identify specific compounds that can increase OXR1 levels during aging, aiming to delay brain aging.
In conclusion, the study provides valuable insights into the intricate relationship between dietary restriction, gene expression (OXR1), and brain health. By unraveling the cellular mechanisms, the research contributes to the broader understanding of how lifestyle factors influence aging and neurodegenerative diseases. The findings also underscore the importance of a healthy diet for overall well-being.
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