Reduced signaling of insulin-like peptides increases the life-span of nematodes, flies, and rodents. In the nematode and the fly, secondary hormones downstream of insulin-like signaling appear to regulate aging. In mammals, the order in which the hormones act is unresolved because insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, growth hormone, and thyroid hormones are interdependent. In all species examined to date, endocrine manipulations can slow aging without concurrent costs in reproduction, but with inevitable increases in stress resistance. Despite the similarities among mammals and invertebrates in insulin-like peptides and their signal cascade, more research is needed to determine whether these signals control aging in the same way in all the species by the same mechanism.
Aging is characterized by a deterioration in the maintenance of homeostatic processes over time, leading to functional decline and increased risk for disease and death. The aging process is characterized metabolically by insulin resistance, changes in body composition, and physiological declines in growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and sex steroids. Some interventions designed to address features of aging, such as caloric restriction or visceral fat depletion, have succeeded in improving insulin action and life span in rodents. Meanwhile, pharmacologic interventions and hormonal perturbations have increased the life span of several mammalian species without necessarily addressing features of age-related metabolic decline. These interventions include inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin and lifetime deficiency in GH/IGF-1 signaling. However, strategies to treat aging in humans, such as hormone replacement, have mostly failed to achieve their desired response. We will briefly discuss recent advances in our understanding of the complex role of metabolic pathways in the aging process and highlight important paradoxes that have emerged from these discoveries. Although life span has been the major outcome of interest in the laboratory, a special focus is made in this study on healthspan, as improved quality of life is the goal when translated to humans.
The workshop entitled ‘Interventions to Slow Aging in Humans: Are We Ready?’ was held in Erice, Italy, on October 8–13, 2013, to bring together leading experts in the biology and genetics of aging and obtain a consensus related to the discovery and development of safe interventions to slow aging and increase healthy lifespan in humans. There was consensus that there is sufficient evidence that aging interventions will delay and prevent disease onset for many chronic conditions of adult and old age. Essential pathways have been identified, and behavioral, dietary, and pharmacologic approaches have emerged. Although many gene targets and drugs were discussed and there was not complete consensus about all interventions, the participants selected a subset of the most promising strategies that could be tested in humans for their effects on healthspan. These were: (i) dietary interventions mimicking chronic dietary restriction (periodic fasting mimicking diets, protein restriction, etc.); (ii) drugs that inhibit the growth hormone/IGF-I axis; (iii) drugs that inhibit the mTOR–S6K pathway; or (iv) drugs that activate AMPK or specific sirtuins. These choices were based in part on consistent evidence for the pro-longevity effects and ability of these interventions to prevent or delay multiple age-related diseases and improve healthspan in simple model organisms and rodents and their potential to be safe and effective in extending human healthspan. The authors of this manuscript were speakers and discussants invited to the workshop. The following summary highlights the major points addressed and the conclusions of the meeting.
Growth hormone (GH) is a key determinant of postnatal growth and plays an important role in the control of metabolism and body composition. Surprisingly, deficiency in GH signaling delays aging and remarkably extends longevity in laboratory mice. In GH-deficient and GH-resistant animals, the "healthspan" is also extended with delays in cognitive decline and in the onset of age-related disease. The role of hormones homologous to insulin-like growth factor (IGF, an important mediator of GH actions) in the control of aging and lifespan is evolutionarily conserved from worms to mammals with some homologies extending to unicellular yeast. The combination of reduced GH, IGF-I, and insulin signaling likely contributes to extended longevity in GH or GH receptor-deficient organisms. Diminutive body size and reduced fecundity of GH-deficient and GH-resistant mice can be viewed as trade-offs for extended longevity. Mechanisms responsible for delayed aging of GH-related mutants include enhanced stress resistance and xenobiotic metabolism, reduced inflammation, improved insulin signaling, and various metabolic adjustments. Pathological excess of GH reduces life expectancy in men as well as in mice, and GH resistance or deficiency provides protection from major age-related diseases, including diabetes and cancer, in both species. However, there is yet no evidence of increased longevity in GH-resistant or GH-deficient humans, possibly due to non-age-related deaths. Results obtained in GH-related mutant mice provide striking examples of mutations of a single gene delaying aging, reducing age-related disease, and extending lifespan in a mammal and providing novel experimental systems for the study of mechanisms of aging.
Reduced intake of nutrients [calorie restriction (CR)] extends longevity in organisms ranging from yeast to mammals. Mutations affecting somatotropic, insulin, or homologous signaling pathways can increase life span in worms, flies, and mice, and there is considerable evidence that reduced secretion of insulin-like growth factor I and insulin are among the mechanisms that mediate the effects of CR on aging and longevity in mammals. In the present study, mice with targeted disruption of the growth hormone (GH) receptor [GH receptor͞GH-binding protein knockout (GHRKO) mice] and their normal siblings were fed ad libitum (AL) or subjected to 30% CR starting at 2 months of age. In normal females and males, CR produced the expected increases in overall, average, median, and maximal life span. Longevity of normal mice subjected to CR resembles that of GHRKO animals fed AL. In sharp contrast to its effects in normal mice, CR failed to increase overall, median, or average life span in GHRKO mice and increased maximal life span only in females. In a separate group of animals, CR for 1 year improved insulin sensitivity in normal mice but failed to further enhance the remarkable insulin sensitivity in GHRKO mutants. These data imply that somatotropic signaling is critically important not only in the control of aging and longevity under conditions of unlimited food supply but also in mediating the effects of CR on life span. The present findings also support the notion that enhanced sensitivity to insulin plays a prominent role in the actions of CR and GH resistance on longevity.insulin-like growth factor I ͉ insulin ͉ longevity ͉ aging ͉ dietary restriction M utations affecting somatotropic and͞or insulin signaling can produce a marked increase of longevity in mice. Genes related to homologous signaling pathways in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, and the f ly Drosophila melanogaster play a key role in the control of aging in these species (1-3). A moderate reduction in the intake of nutrients [also known as calorie restriction (CR)] is extremely effective in delaying aging and increasing longevity in organisms ranging from yeast to mammals (3-5). We have previously reported that CR produces an additional increase in the life span of a long-lived hypopituitary mutant mouse, the Ames dwarf, and alters the slope of its survival curve similarly to the effects of CR in normal mice (6). This result was counterintuitive because both Ames dwarfs and normal animals subjected to CR have reduced insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and insulin levels and share other phenotypic characteristics. Although C. elegans with a mutation in the insulin͞IGF-I homologous signaling pathway Daf 16͞FOXO lived longer when subjected to CR (7,8), CR failed to further increase longevity in D. melanogaster with a chico mutation that interferes with insulin͞IGF-I signaling and prolongs life (9). Interpretation of the findings obtained in Ames dwarf mice is complicated by the fact that in addition to growth hormone (GH...
Previous studies have shown that dermal fibroblast cell lines derived from young adult mice of the long-lived Snell dwarf mutant stock are resistant, in vitro, to the cytotoxic effects of H2O2, cadmium, UV light, paraquat, and heat. We show here that similar resistance profiles are seen in fibroblast cells derived from a related mutant, the Ames dwarf mouse, and that cells from growth hormone receptor-null mice are resistant to H2O2, paraquat, and UV but not to cadmium. Resistance to UV light, cadmium, and H2O2are similar in cells derived from 1-wk-old Snell dwarf or normal mice, and thus the resistance of cell lines derived from young adult donors reflects developmental processes, presumably hormone dependent, that take place in the first few months of life. The resistance of cells from Snell dwarf mice to these stresses does not reflect merely antioxidant defenses: dwarf-derived cells are also resistant to the DNA-alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate. Furthermore, inhibitor studies show that fibroblast resistance to UV light is unaffected by the antioxidants ascorbic acid and N-acetyl-l-cysteine. These data suggest that postnatal exposure to altered levels of pituitary hormones leads to development of cellular resistance to oxidative and nonoxidative stressors, which are stable through many rounds of in vitro cell division and could contribute to the remarkable disease resistance of long-lived mutant mice.
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