Diet is the most effective way to augment longevity.
A new study published in the journal Cell joins an increasing list of pro-CR literature, concluding that limiting caloric intake slows cellular aging, reduces inflammation and dramatically lowers one’s risk for developing age-related diseases.
“We already knew that calorie restriction increases life span, but now we’ve shown all the changes that occur at a single-cell level to cause that,” explained Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, the corresponding author of the new paper, and a professor in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, in a press release. “This gives us targets that we may eventually be able to act on with drugs to treat aging in humans.”
With the help of cutting-edge analytics the researchers were able to examine the alterations in the genetic activity and cell composition consequenced by extended periods of calorie restriction.
Caloric restriction reprograms cellular landscapes
The study began with rodent models by reason of their genetic similarities to humans. Between the ages of 18 months and 27 months, half of the rats were administered 30% fewer calories compared to the control group that adhered to a standard diet regimen.
For a frame of reference, the equivalent time-span observed by the study would roughly translate to about 20 years between middle age and advanced age in humans (approx: 50 to 70).
Before the study began and again after it concluded the researchers isolated and analyzed 168,703 cell bodies from the brain, muscle, liver, skin, kidney, bone marrow, and fat tissue regions across both rat groups.
Upon further computational inspection calorie restriction seemed to drastically reduce negative aging-related changes in cell-type composition, gene expression, and core transcriptional regulatory networks.
“This approach not only told us the effect of calorie restriction on these cell types but also provided the most complete and detailed study of what happens at a single-cell level during aging,” says co-corresponding author Guang-Hui Liu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The experiment group evidenced a larger number of immune cells. Prolonged calorie restriction advantageously reversed the advanced age-induced disturbed immune ecosystem. Abnormal cell to cell communication patterns associated with aging was also successfully reversed by CR.
A staggering 57% of the negative age-related changes observed in the control group were absent from the rats on restricted diets. Indeed, by the time these rodents reached old age, their cells appeared to be significantly younger than their biological age would suggest.
“Our work provides multi-tissue single-cell transcriptional landscapes associated with aging and CR in a mammal, enhances our understanding of the robustness of CR as a neuroprotective intervention, and uncovers how metabolic intervention can act upon the immune system to modify the process of aging,” the authors wrote in the new report.