Posted on 5 August 2020
Caloric restriction and fasting confer a broad range of health benefits and have been shown to significantly extend lifespan in animals. One of the main mechanisms of these health benefits involves the way cells respond to nutrients.
Low nutrient availability activates a metabolic ‘master switch’ called AMPK (Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase), which is involved in pathways that can promote longevity. For example, AMPK can inhibit another signalling molecule called mTOR, slowing cell growth and promoting the clearance of senescent cells (dormant cells that can weaken the tissues of which they are part).
Boosting AMPK can slow ageing in animals, and a study in roundworms has now discovered an enzyme called VRK-1 that activates AMPK to enhance lifespan.
Boosting VRK-1 activity in the roundworms extended the organism’s lifespan by stimulating AMPK activity, and inhibiting the enzyme reduced its lifespan. Moving to laboratory cell tests the researchers verified this VRK-1 to AMPK mechanism does seem to occur in human cells, suggesting it is possible the lifespan-extending results may be replicated in human subjects.
“This raises the intriguing possibility that VRK-1 also functions as a factor in governing human longevity, and so perhaps we can start developing longevity-promoting drugs that alter the activity of VRK-1,” explains Seung-Jae V. Lee, who lead the new research.Anti-aging enzyme discovery raises prospect of lifespan extension . (2020). Retrieved 5 August 2020, from https://newatlas.com/science/anti-aging-enzyme-lifespan-extension-ampk-kaist/
AMPK Modulates Tissue and Organismal Aging in a NonCell-Autonomous Manner: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2014.08.006
VRK-1 extends life span by activation of AMPK via phosphorylation: DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7824
Anti-aging enzyme discovery raises prospect of lifespan extension: https://newatlas.com/science/anti-aging-enzyme-lifespan-extension-ampk-kaist/
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