Not so sweet: Over-consumption of sugar linked to aging

Mar 06, 2009

We know that lifespan can be extended in animals by restricting calories such as sugar intake. Now, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Genetics, Université de Montréal scientists have discovered that it's not sugar itself that is important in this process but the ability of cells to sense its presence.

Aging is a complex phenomenon and the mechanisms underlying aging are yet to be explained. What researchers do know is that there is a clear relationship between aging and calorie intake. For example, mice fed with half the calories they usually eat can live 40 percent longer. How does this work?

As part of the PLoS Genetics study, Université de Montréal Biochemistry Professor Luis Rokeach and his student Antoine Roux discovered to their surprise that if they removed the gene for a glucose sensor from yeast cells, they lived just as long as those living on a glucose-restricted diet. In short, the fate of these cells doesn't depend on what they eat but what they think they're eating.

There are two obvious aspects of calorie intake: tasting and digestion. By the time nutrients get to our cells there is an analogous process: sensors on the surface of the cell detect the presence of, for example, the sugar glucose and molecules inside the cell break down the glucose, converting it to energy. Of these processes, it is widely thought that the by-products of broken down sugars are the culprits in aging. The study by Rokeach and Roux suggests otherwise.

To understand aging, Rokeach and Roux in collaboration with Université de Montréal Biochemistry Professors Pascal Chartrand and Gerardo Ferbeyre used yeast as a model organism. At a basic level, yeast cells are surprisingly similar and age much like human cells, as well as being easy to study.

The research team found that the lifespan of yeast cells increased when glucose was decreased from their diet. They then asked whether the increase in lifespan was due to cells decreasing their ability to produce energy or to the decrease in signal to the cells by the glucose sensor.

The scientists found that cells unable to consume glucose as energy source are still sensitive to the pro-aging effects of glucose. Conversely, obliterating the sensor that measures the levels of glucose significantly increased lifespan.

"Thanks to this study, the link between the rise in age-related diseases and the over-consumption of sugar in today's diet is clearer. Our research opens a door to new therapeutic strategies for fighting age-related diseases," says Professor Rokeach.

More information: PLoS Genetics: www.plosgenetics.org/home.action

Source: University of Montreal

Explore further: Researchers create designer 'barrel' proteins

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

51 minutes ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

1 hour ago

A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over ...

Icelandic volcano sits on massive magma hot spot

1 hour ago

Spectacular eruptions at Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland have been spewing lava continuously since Aug. 31. Massive amounts of erupting lava are connected to the destruction of supercontinents and ...

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

1 hour ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

NBCUniversal settles with unpaid interns for $6.4M

2 hours ago

NBCUniversal will pay $6.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by unpaid interns who worked on "Saturday Night Live" and other shows who claim they are owed wages, according to court documents.

Recommended for you

Amino acids key to new gold leaching process

11 hours ago

Curtin University scientists have developed a gold and copper extraction process using an amino acid–hydrogen peroxide system, which could provide an environmentally friendly and cheaper alternative to ...

Researchers create designer 'barrel' proteins

Oct 23, 2014

Proteins are long linear molecules that fold up to form well-defined 3D shapes. These 3D molecular architectures are essential for biological functions such as the elasticity of skin, the digestion of food, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2009
ignorance is bliss