Inducing stress response slows down aging in roundworms

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

October 20, 2022 -- Singapore researchers have discovered that when a stress response is switched on in cells after reproductive age, it slows down aging and promotes longevity, potentially opening the door to therapies for age-related disorders.

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University experimented with a type of roundworm that shares similarities with humans and fed them a high-glucose diet to switch on their cells' stress response, called the unfolded protein response. Doing so extended the roundworms' lifespan compared with worms fed a normal diet (Nature Communications, October 19, 2022).

Roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans) were fed a high-glucose diet at two different life stages: young (i.e., at the start of their adulthood) (day 1), and at a post-reproductive age (day 5), when the worms were aged and no longer fertile. A control group of worms was fed a normal diet throughout.

The aged worms given a high-glucose diet lived almost twice as long as young worms given the same diet (24 days versus 13 days). Worms on a normal diet lived for 20 days. The aged worms on the high-glucose diet were also more agile and had more energy storage cells than worms given a normal diet.

When looking at the three stress sensors responsible for a cellular pathway in the unfolded protein response, the scientists found one of the stress sensors, IRE1, was significantly more active in young worms compared with aged worms. When the gene coding was switched off, young worms fed a high-glucose diet from day 1 lived for 25 days -- twice as long as when the IRE1 gene was intact.

The findings suggest the increased activity of stress sensor IRE1 seen in young worms fed a high-glucose diet from day 1 was responsible for shortening their lifespan.

A drug that reduces the activity of IRE1 while increasing the activity of the other two stress sensors could potentially be developed to decelerate cellular aging and extend lifespans in humans, according to the researchers.

More studies are needed to dissect the mechanism behind the lifespan extension induced by a high-glucose diet, and how this can apply to humans because a high-glucose diet does not induce the same longevity effect in people.

Healing properties of senescent cells raise questions about anti-aging research
University of California, San Francisco researchers have found some senescent cells help to heal damaged tissues, raising questions about the merits of...
Research on telomerase RNA biogenesis offers antiaging potential
Researchers from Arizona State University and the Biodesign Institute have discovered a new pathway for producing telomerase RNA from a protein-coding...
Scientists discover how cells repair damaged lysosomes, offers better understanding of age-related diseases
University of Pittsburgh researchers have described for the first time a pathway by which cells repair damaged lysosomes, structures that contribute to...
Mitochondrial dysfunction leads to premature aging, disease: study
University at Buffalo researchers, and collaborators from other institutions, contend in a new paper that they have revealed for the first time the connection...

Copyright © 2022

Science Advisory Board on LinkedIn
Science Advisory Board on Facebook
Science Advisory Board on Twitter