A new study has revealed that Sestrin protein could prolong life and have anti-aging effects.
According to the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging, reduced food intake is capable of prolonging the lives of many animals and also improving the health of humans. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the positive effects of this dietary restriction are not very clear.
A group of scientists has found a possible explanation for the phenomenon in fruit flies. In new research, published in Nature, they identified a protein called sestrin, which mediates the beneficial effects of dietary restriction on these insects.
Research shows that restricting certain components of food, particularly proteins and their individual components, amino acids, is more important for the body’s response to dietary restriction than overall calorie reduction. At the molecular level, a well-known “signalling pathway”, called the TOR pathway, plays an important role in longevity.
“Our results in flies revealed Sestrin as a novel potential anti-ageing factor. We could show that the Sestrin protein binds certain amino acids. When we inhibited this binding, the TOR signalling pathway in the flies was less active and the flies lived longer”explained Linda Partridge, leader of the research team.
By increasing the levels of sestrin in the flies, the researchers were able to extend their lives by 10%. In addition, these flies acquired protection against the life-shortening effects caused by a high-protein diet.
Scientists now hope to find out if sestrin has the same effect on humans. Experiments carried out with mice have revealed that sestrin is necessary for the beneficial effects of exercise on the animal’s health, explained Jiongming Lu, a researcher at the institute.
“A drug that increases the activity of the Sestrin protein might therefore be in future a novel approach to slow down the ageing process”Lu concluded.