A new study conducted by researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, CA, has found that calorie restriction may have a protective effect on the brain against aging. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, focused on the impact of calorie restriction on brain aging in fruit flies and human cells. The researchers identified a specific gene, known as the “mustard” gene in fruit flies and the oxidation resistance 1 (OXR1) gene in humans and rodents, that is enhanced through calorie restriction and is involved in processes necessary for healthy brain aging.
The OXR1 gene was found to affect the retromer, a cellular complex responsible for recycling proteins and lipids. By studying the effects of calorie restriction on this gene, the researchers were able to gain insight into the mechanisms involved in brain aging. These findings may have implications for the development of potential therapeutic targets to slow down aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Lisa Ellerby, one of the co-senior authors of the study, emphasized the importance of understanding the factors that are modulated by dietary restriction and are protective in the brain. She believes that simple changes in diet, such as increasing the levels of OXR1 in the brain, may have a protective effect against brain aging. The researchers plan to identify small molecules that can increase the expression of OXR1, potentially leading to the development of a therapeutic for the aging brain.
Dr. Clifford Segil, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, commented on the study, stating that further investigation is warranted to determine if excessive caloric intake has more harm than benefits. He also suggested that individuals using injectable weight loss medications could be an excellent group for future research on the effects of dietary restriction on neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Segil stressed the importance of collaboration between scientists studying simple organisms and those working with human patients to gather clinical data.
While this study provides valuable insights into the potential benefits of calorie restriction in protecting the brain from aging and age-related diseases, further research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms involved. Future studies may delve deeper into the effects of dietary restriction on brain health and explore the therapeutic potential in humans. The findings from this study open new avenues for research and may pave the way for the development of interventions to promote healthy brain aging.