A Restricted Diet Alleviates Progeroid Syndromes In Mice

Credit: Dido Carrero, Clara Soria-Valles, Carlos López-Otín
Disease Models and Mechanisms 2016 9: 719-735

Mice with impaired DNA repair that restrict their dietary intake by 30% live up to 3 times longer

Progeroid syndromes such as Cockayne Syndrome and Trichothiodystrophy result in premature aging, poor growth and a vastly reduced lifespan. All of the syndromes are caused by mutations in genes involved in DNA repair and have catastrophic consequences for those afflicted by the condition. There is currently very limited available treatment, but research on mice is suggesting dietary intervention could alleviate some of the symptoms and delay disease progress. 

Less is more

After modifying a strain of mice so that their DNA repair was compromised, researchers put a group of afflicted mice on a restricted diet plan. The mouse group that eat normally lived a paltry 4-6 months, but the restricted group made it to over a year.  Deterioration of their nervous system, movement and eyesight was also slowed considerably; maintaining their overall health in a far better state in comparison. 

'The DNA is constantly being damaged, but a special DNA repair system keeps repairing the damage. However, in these children and mice the DNA repair system does not work, resulting in an accumulation of damage in the cells and the whole organism ages faster. However, a strict diet makes the body go into a defense mode and redirects its energy more towards maintenance and defense than growth. Moreover, dietary restriction leads to less DNA damage, thereby slowing down the aging process' 

 

Now, while the result is encouraging it's far from mind-blowing. We ultimately want to see cures, not extensions and delays. However, considering limiting one's diet is actually a cheap and easily implemented (relatively) solution, the study provides more evidence that dietary restriction may slow down aspects of the aging process to a degree - a finding that has potential implications for delaying other diseases too. 

 'For the long term, the study will also be key for preventing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. We have developed a mouse that shows that for many of these common diseases aging is the main cause, and that the DNA repair system is crucial for this. All the more reason for further research'

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