It was already known that caloric restriction has a life-prolonging effect in mice. A study at the University of Newcastle has revealed that the formation of protein complexes in the mitochondria play a key role in that.
The researchers have proven that certain proteins in mitochondria are involved in the premature ageing of mice. In isolation these proteins produce free radicals which leads to oxidative damage, resulting in faster ageing of the cell. In a complex form, oxidative damage and cell ageing are slower.
The researchers applied various interventions to stimulate complex formation. One of those interventions was caloric restriction. Caloric restriction results in a cell obtaining fewer nutrients. What did this reveal? When there is a shortage of nutrients, the protein complexes are almost perfectly constructed, which means that the mice involved in the study live longer. To the contrary, excessive nutrients resulted in less efficient complex formation and this has a negative effect on the lifespan.
"Our data largely substantiate why caloric restriction may be responsible for improved function of the mitochondria, extension of the lifespan and a delay in many age-related disorders”, said the researchers.
The researchers seek to study caloric restriction and the formation of protein complexes in people. They hope that this will enable them to determine whether the mechanism works in exactly the same way as in mice. For the time-being, it is a promising development in the field of anti-ageing.
Satomi Miwa, et al., Low abundance of the matrix arm of complex I in mitochondria predicts longevity in mice, Nature Communications 5, Article number: 3837.