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1.  HIF-1 modulates longevity and healthspan in a temperature-dependent manner 
Aging cell  2011;10(2):318-326.
The hypoxia-inducible factor HIF-1 has recently been identified as an important modifier of longevity in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. Studies have reported that HIF-1 can function as both a positive and negative regulator of lifespan, and several disparate models have been proposed for the role of HIF in aging. Here, we resolve many of the apparent discrepancies between these studies. We find that stabilization of HIF-1 increases life span robustly under all conditions tested; however, deletion of hif-1 increases life span in a temperature-dependent manner. Animals lacking HIF-1 are long-lived at 25°C but not at 15°C. We further report that deletion or RNAi knock-down of hif-1 impairs healthspan at lower temperatures due to an age-dependent loss of vulval integrity. Deletion of hif-1 extends life span modestly at 20°C when animals displaying the vulval integrity defect are censored from the experimental data, but fails to extend life span if these animals are included. Knock-down of hif-1 results in nuclear relocalization of the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16, and DAF-16 is required for life span extension from deletion of hif-1 at all temperatures regardless of censoring.
PMCID: PMC3980873  PMID: 21241450
HIF-1α; longevity; healthspan; DAF-16; Caenorhabditis elegans; hypoxic response
2.  The TOR pathway comes of age 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2009;1790(10):1067-1074.
Studies in a variety of model organisms indicate that nutrient signaling is tightly coupled to longevity. In nutrient replete conditions, organisms develop, grow, and age quickly. When nutrients become sparse as with dietary restriction, growth and development decline, stress response pathways become induced and organisms live longer. Considerable effort has been devoted to understanding the molecular events mediating lifespan extension by dietary restriction. One central focus has been on nutrient-responsive signal transduction pathways including Insulin/IGF-1, AMP kinase, protein kinase A and the TOR pathway. Here we describe the increasingly prominent links between TOR signaling and aging in invertebrates. Longevity studies in mammals are not discussed here. Instead, we highlight studies in mouse models which indicate that dampening the TOR pathway leads to widespread protection from an array of age-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC3981532  PMID: 19539012
3.  Stress profiling of longevity mutants identifies Afg3 as a mitochondrial determinant of cytoplasmic mRNA translation and aging 
Aging cell  2012;12(1):156-166.
While environmental stress likely plays a significant role in promoting aging, the relationship remains poorly understood. In order to characterize this interaction in a more comprehensive manner, we examined the stress response profiles for 46 long-lived yeast mutant strains across four different stress conditions (oxidative, ER, DNA damage, and thermal), grouping genes based on their associated stress response profiles. Unexpectedly, cells lacking the mitochondrial AAA protease gene AFG3 clustered strongly with long-lived strains lacking cytosolic ribosomal proteins of the large subunit. Similar to these ribosomal protein mutants, afg3Δ cells show reduced cytoplasmic mRNA translation, enhanced resistance to tunicamycin that is independent of the ER unfolded protein response, and Sir2-independent but Gcn4-dependent life span extension. These data demonstrate an unexpected link between a mitochondrial protease, cytoplasmic mRNA translation, and aging.
PMCID: PMC3687586  PMID: 23167605
aging; stress response; translation; mitochondria; ER stress; replicative lifespan; longevity; yeast; epistasis; phenotype mapping
4.  Mice Fed Rapamycin Have an Increase in Lifespan Associated with Major Changes in the Liver Transcriptome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83988.
Rapamycin was found to increase (11% to 16%) the lifespan of male and female C57BL/6J mice most likely by reducing the increase in the hazard for mortality (i.e., the rate of aging) term in the Gompertz mortality analysis. To identify the pathways that could be responsible for rapamycin's longevity effect, we analyzed the transcriptome of liver from 25-month-old male and female mice fed rapamycin starting at 4 months of age. Few changes (<300 transcripts) were observed in transcriptome of rapamycin-fed males; however, a large number of transcripts (>4,500) changed significantly in females. Using multidimensional scaling and heatmap analyses, the male mice fed rapamycin were found to segregate into two groups: one group that is almost identical to control males (Rapa-1) and a second group (Rapa-2) that shows a change in gene expression (>4,000 transcripts) with more than 60% of the genes shared with female mice fed Rapa. Using ingenuity pathway analysis, 13 pathways were significantly altered in both Rapa-2 males and rapamycin-fed females with mitochondrial function as the most significantly changed pathway. Our findings show that rapamycin has a major effect on the transcriptome and point to several pathways that would likely impact the longevity.
PMCID: PMC3883653  PMID: 24409289
5.  Lifespan Extension Conferred by Endoplasmic Reticulum Secretory Pathway Deficiency Requires Induction of the Unfolded Protein Response 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004019.
Cells respond to accumulation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) by activating the unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling pathway. The UPR restores ER homeostasis by degrading misfolded proteins, inhibiting translation, and increasing expression of chaperones that enhance ER protein folding capacity. Although ER stress and protein aggregation have been implicated in aging, the role of UPR signaling in regulating lifespan remains unknown. Here we show that deletion of several UPR target genes significantly increases replicative lifespan in yeast. This extended lifespan depends on a functional ER stress sensor protein, Ire1p, and is associated with constitutive activation of upstream UPR signaling. We applied ribosome profiling coupled with next generation sequencing to quantitatively examine translational changes associated with increased UPR activity and identified a set of stress response factors up-regulated in the long-lived mutants. Besides known UPR targets, we uncovered up-regulation of components of the cell wall and genes involved in cell wall biogenesis that confer resistance to multiple stresses. These findings demonstrate that the UPR is an important determinant of lifespan that governs ER stress and identify a signaling network that couples stress resistance to longevity.
Author Summary
Impaired protein function caused by protein misfolding and aggregation has been implicated in the development of age-related diseases and regulation of lifespan. Accumulation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum, a cellular organelle responsible for protein folding and trafficking, activates protective signaling pathways that restore protein homeostasis. One such conserved signalling pathway is mediated by the protein misfolding sensor Ire1p and the transcription factor Hac1p, which up-regulate endoplasmic reticulum chaperones, oxidative folding components and factors that facilitate degradation of misfolded proteins to alleviate increased protein folding demand. Here, we describe the role of the Ire1p pathway and its downstream targets in regulation of lifespan in yeast. While the loss of Ire1p itself had little effect on lifespan, we found that selective inactivation of the individual protein folding and maturation factors led to increased longevity. We also provide evidence that this increased longevity depends on functional Ire1p and induction of multiple cytoprotective pathways that confer resistance to stress.
PMCID: PMC3879150  PMID: 24391512
6.  Elevated MTORC1 signaling and impaired autophagy 
Autophagy  2013;9(1):108-109.
A-type lamins, generated from the LMNA gene by differential splicing, are type V intermediate filament proteins that polymerize to form part of the nuclear lamina, and are of considerable medical interest because missense mutations in LMNA give rise to a wide range of dystrophic and progeroid syndromes. Among these are dilated cardiomyopathy and two forms of muscular dystrophy (limb-girdle and Emery-Dreifuss), which are modeled in lmna−/− mice and mice engineered to express human disease mutations. Our recent study demonstrates that cardiac and skeletal muscle pathology in lmna−/− mice can be attributed to elevated MTORC1 signaling leading to impairment of autophagic flux. An accompanying paper from another laboratory shows similar impairments in mice engineered to express the LMNA H222P associated with dilated cardiomyopathy in humans and also in left ventricular tissue from human subjects. MTORC1 inhibition with rapalogs restores autophagic flux and improves cardiac function in both mouse models, and extends survival in the lmna−/− mice. These findings elaborate a potential treatment option for dilated cardiomyopathy and muscular dystrophy associated with LMNA mutation and supplement growing evidence linking impaired autophagy to human disease.
PMCID: PMC3542211  PMID: 23064282
dilated cardiomyopathy; MTORC1 signaling; autophagy; nuclear lamina; laminopathies; muscular dystrophy; aging
7.  UV-Photoconversion of Ethosuximide from a Longevity-Promoting Compound to a Potent Toxin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82543.
The anticonvulsant ethosuximide has been previously shown to increase life span and promote healthspan in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans at millimolar concentrations. Here we report that following exposure to ultraviolet irradiation at 254 nm, ethosuximide is converted into a compound that displays toxicity toward C. elegans. This effect is specific for ethosuximide, as the structurally related compounds trimethadione and succinimide do not show similar toxicities following UV exposure. Killing by UV-irradiated ethosuximide is not attenuated in chemosensory mutants that are resistant to toxicity associated with high doses of non-irradiated ethosuximide. Non-irradiated ethosuximide extends life span at 15°C or 20°C, but not at 25°C, while irradiated ethosuximide shows similar toxicity at all three temperatures. Dietary restriction by bacterial deprivation does not protect against toxicity from irradiated ethosuximide, while non-irradiated ethosuximide further extends the long life spans of restricted animals. These data support the model that ethosuximide extends life span by a mechanism that is, at least partially, distinct from dietary restriction by bacterial deprivation and demonstrates an unexpected photochemical conversion of ethosuximide into a toxic compound by UV light.
PMCID: PMC3858337  PMID: 24340038
8.  Buffering the pH of the culture medium does not extend yeast replicative lifespan 
F1000Research  2013;2:216.
During chronological aging of budding yeast cells, the culture medium can become acidified, and this acidification limits cell survival.  As a consequence, buffering the culture medium to pH 6 significantly extends chronological life span under standard conditions in synthetic medium.  In this study, we assessed whether a similar process occurs during replicative aging of yeast cells.  We find no evidence that buffering the pH of the culture medium to pH levels either higher or lower than the initial pH of the medium is able to significantly extend replicative lifespan.  Thus, we conclude that, unlike chronological life span, replicative life span is not limited by acidification of the culture medium or by changes in the pH of the environment.
PMCID: PMC3886788  PMID: 24555104
9.  Deciphering the role of natural variation in age-related protein homeostasis 
BMC Biology  2013;11:102.
Understanding the genetic basis of age-related diseases is a critical step toward developing therapies that promote healthy aging. Numerous genes have been identified that modulate lifespan, but the influence of natural variation in aging has not been well studied. A new report utilizing a transgenic protein aggregation model in Caenorhabditis elegans has provided important tools and insights into the relationship between natural genetic variation, protein aggregation, and age-related pathology.
See research article:
PMCID: PMC3849513  PMID: 24228595
10.  The Ribosomal Protein Rpl22 Controls Ribosome Composition by Directly Repressing Expression of Its Own Paralog, Rpl22l1 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003708.
Most yeast ribosomal protein genes are duplicated and their characterization has led to hypotheses regarding the existence of specialized ribosomes with different subunit composition or specifically-tailored functions. In yeast, ribosomal protein genes are generally duplicated and evidence has emerged that paralogs might have specific roles. Unlike yeast, most mammalian ribosomal proteins are thought to be encoded by a single gene copy, raising the possibility that heterogenous populations of ribosomes are unique to yeast. Here, we examine the roles of the mammalian Rpl22, finding that Rpl22−/− mice have only subtle phenotypes with no significant translation defects. We find that in the Rpl22−/− mouse there is a compensatory increase in Rpl22-like1 (Rpl22l1) expression and incorporation into ribosomes. Consistent with the hypothesis that either ribosomal protein can support translation, knockdown of Rpl22l1 impairs growth of cells lacking Rpl22. Mechanistically, Rpl22 regulates Rpl22l1 directly by binding to an internal hairpin structure and repressing its expression. We propose that ribosome specificity may exist in mammals, providing evidence that one ribosomal protein can influence composition of the ribosome by regulating its own paralog.
Author Summary
Translation is the process by which proteins are made within a cell. Ribosomes are the main macromolecular complexes involved in this process. Ribosomes are composed of ribosomal RNA and ribosomal proteins. Ribosomal proteins are generally thought to be structural components of the ribosome but recent findings have suggested that they might have a regulatory function as well. A growing number of human diseases have been linked to mutations in genes encoding factors involved in ribosome biogenesis and translation. These include developmental malformations, inherited bone marrow failure syndromes and cancer in a variety of organisms. Here, we describe the role of one ribosomal protein regulating another. We provide evidence that ribosomal proteins can influence the composition of the ribosome, which we hypothesize, may impact the function of the ribosome.
PMCID: PMC3750023  PMID: 23990801
11.  pH neutralization protects against reduction in replicative lifespan following chronological aging in yeast 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(16):3087-3096.
Chronological and replicative aging have been studied in yeast as alternative paradigms for post-mitotic and mitotic aging, respectively. It has been known for more than a decade that cells of the S288C background aged chronologically in rich medium have reduced replicative lifespan relative to chronologically young cells. Here we report replication of this observation in the diploid BY4743 strain background. We further show that the reduction in replicative lifespan from chronological aging is accelerated when cells are chronologically aged under standard conditions in synthetic complete medium rather than rich medium. The loss of replicative potential with chronological age is attenuated by buffering the pH of the chronological aging medium to 6.0, an intervention that we have previously shown can extend chronological lifespan. These data demonstrate that extracellular acidification of the culture medium can cause intracellular damage in the chronologically aging population that is asymmetrically segregated by the mother cell to limit subsequent replicative lifespan.
PMCID: PMC3442919  PMID: 22871733
chronological lifespan; longevity; replication stress; replicative lifespan; yeast
12.  mTOR is a key modulator of ageing and age-related disease 
Nature  2013;493(7432):338-345.
Many experts in the biology of ageing believe that pharmacological interventions to slow ageing are a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. A leading target for such interventions is the nutrient response pathway defined by the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR). Inhibition of this pathway extends lifespan in model organisms and confers protection against a growing list of age-related pathologies. Characterized inhibitors of this pathway are already clinically approved, and others are under development. Although adverse side effects currently preclude use in otherwise healthy individuals, drugs that target the mTOR pathway could one day become widely used to slow ageing and reduce age-related pathologies in humans.
PMCID: PMC3687363  PMID: 23325216
13.  Replicative and Chronological Aging in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Cell Metabolism  2012;16(1):18-31.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae has directly or indirectly contributed to the identification of arguably more mammalian genes that affect aging than any other model organism. Aging in yeast is assayed primarily by measuring replicative or chronological lifespan. Here, we review the genes and mechanisms implicated in these two aging model systems and key remaining issues that need to be addressed to optimize these assays. Because of its well-characterized genome and proteome that is remarkably amenable to genetic manipulation and high-throughput screening procedures, S. cerevisiae will continue to serve as a leading model organism to study pathways relevant to human aging and disease.
PMCID: PMC3392685  PMID: 22768836
14.  Lessons on longevity from budding yeast 
Nature  2010;464(7288):513-519.
The past decade has seen fundamental advances in our understanding of the ageing process and raised optimism that interventions to slow ageing may be on the horizon. Studies of budding yeast have made immense contributions to this progress. Yeast longevity factors have now been shown to modulate ageing in invertebrate and mammalian models, and studies of yeast have resulted in some of the best candidates for anti-ageing drugs currently in development. The first interventions to slow human ageing may spring from the humble yeast.
PMCID: PMC3696189  PMID: 20336133
15.  Hot Topics in Aging Research: Protein Translation, 2009 
Aging cell  2009;8(6):617-623.
In the last few years, links between regulation of mRNA translation and aging have been firmly established in invertebrate model organisms. This year, a possible relationship between mRNA translation and aging in mammals has been established with the report that rapamycin increases life span in mice. Other significant findings have connected translation control with other known longevity pathways and provided fodder for mechanistic hypotheses. Here we summarize advances in this emerging field and raise questions for future studies.
PMCID: PMC3673879  PMID: 19747234
proteotoxicity; longevity; dietary restriction; rapamycin; TOR; ribosome; translation; degradation
16.  Increased Polyamine Intake Inhibits Age-Associated Alteration in Global DNA Methylation and 1,2-Dimethylhydrazine-Induced Tumorigenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64357.
Polyamines (spermine and spermidine) play many important roles in cellular function and are supplied from the intestinal lumen. We have shown that continuous high polyamine intake inhibits age-associated pathologies in mice. The mechanism by which polyamines elicit these effects was examined. Twenty-four week old Jc1:ICR male mice were fed one of three experimental chows containing different polyamine concentrations. Lifetime intake of high polyamine chow, which had a polyamine content approximately three times higher than regular chow, elevated polyamine concentrations in whole blood, suppressed age-associated increases in pro-inflammatory status, decreased age-associated pathological changes, inhibited age-associated global alteration in DNA methylation status and reduced the mortality in aged mice. Exogenous spermine augmented DNA methyltransferase activity in Jurkat and HT-29 cells and inhibited polyamine deficiency-induced global alteration in DNA methylation status in vitro. In addition, increased polyamine intake was associated with a decreased incidence of colon tumors in BALB/c mice after 1,2-demethylhydrazine administration; 12 mice (60%) in the low polyamine group developed tumors, compared with only 5 mice (25%) in the high polyamine group (Fisher's exact probability = 0.027, p = 0.025). However, increased polyamine intake accelerated the growth of established tumors; maximal tumor diameter in the Low and High groups was 3.85±0.90 mm and 5.50±1.93 mm, respectively (Mann-Whitney test, p = 0.039). Spermine seems to play important roles in inhibiting age-associated and polyamine-deficient induced abnormal gene methylation as well as pathological changes including tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3655973  PMID: 23696883
17.  Genomics and Genetics of Aging 
Current Genomics  2012;13(7):499.
PMCID: PMC3468882  PMID: 23633909
18.  Genome-Wide RNAi Longevity Screens in Caenorhabditis elegans 
Current Genomics  2012;13(7):508-518.
Progress in aging research has identified genetic and environmental factors that regulate longevity across species. The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans is a genetically tractable model system that has been widely used to investigate the molecular mechanisms of aging, and the development of RNA interference (RNAi) technology has provided a powerful tool for performing large-scale genetic screens in this organism. Genome-wide screens have identified hundreds of genes that influence lifespan, many of which fall into distinct functional classes and pathways. The purpose of this review is to summarize the results of large-scale RNAi longevity screens in C. elegans, and to provide an in-depth comparison and analysis of their methodology and most significant findings.
PMCID: PMC3468884  PMID: 23633911
Dietary restriction; FOXO; Genomic; Longevity; IGF-1; Insulin; Mitochondria.
19.  Rapamycin Reverses Elevated mTORC1 Signaling in Lamin A/C–Deficient Mice, Rescues Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Function, and Extends Survival 
Science translational medicine  2012;4(144):144ra103.
Mutations in LMNA, the gene that encodes A-type lamins, cause multiple diseases including dystrophies of the skeletal muscle and fat, dilated cardiomyopathy, and progeria-like syndromes (collectively termed laminopathies). Reduced A-type lamin function, however, is most commonly associated with skeletal muscle dystrophy and dilated cardiomyopathy rather than lipodystrophy or progeria. The mechanisms underlying these diseases are only beginning to be unraveled. We report that mice deficient in Lmna, which corresponds to the human gene LMNA, have enhanced mTORC1 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1) signaling specifically in tissues linked to pathology, namely, cardiac and skeletal muscle. Pharmacologic reversal of elevated mTORC1 signaling by rapamycin improves cardiac and skeletal muscle function and enhances survival in mice lacking A-type lamins. At the cellular level, rapamycin decreases the number of myocytes with abnormal desmin accumulation and decreases the amount of desmin in both muscle and cardiac tissue of Lmna–/– mice. In addition, inhibition of mTORC1 signaling with rapamycin improves defective autophagic-mediated degradation in Lmna–/– mice. Together, these findings point to aberrant mTORC1 signaling as a mechanistic component of laminopathies associated with reduced A-type lamin function and offer a potential therapeutic approach, namely, the use of rapamycin-related mTORC1 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3613228  PMID: 22837538
20.  A Natural Polymorphism in rDNA Replication Origins Links Origin Activation with Calorie Restriction and Lifespan 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003329.
Aging and longevity are complex traits influenced by genetic and environmental factors. To identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that control replicative lifespan, we employed an outbred Saccharomyces cerevisiae model, generated by crossing a vineyard and a laboratory strain. The predominant QTL mapped to the rDNA, with the vineyard rDNA conferring a lifespan increase of 41%. The lifespan extension was independent of Sir2 and Fob1, but depended on a polymorphism in the rDNA origin of replication from the vineyard strain that reduced origin activation relative to the laboratory origin. Strains carrying vineyard rDNA origins have increased capacity for replication initiation at weak plasmid and genomic origins, suggesting that inability to complete genome replication presents a major impediment to replicative lifespan. Calorie restriction, a conserved mediator of lifespan extension that is also independent of Sir2 and Fob1, reduces rDNA origin firing in both laboratory and vineyard rDNA. Our results are consistent with the possibility that calorie restriction, similarly to the vineyard rDNA polymorphism, modulates replicative lifespan through control of rDNA origin activation, which in turn affects genome replication dynamics.
Author Summary
Although many aging regulators have been discovered, we are still uncovering how each contributes to the basic biology underlying cell lifespan and how certain longevity-promoting regimens, such as calorie restriction, manipulate the aging process across species. Since many cellular aging processes between human cells and budding yeast are related, we examined a collection of genetically diverse yeast and discovered that a genetic variant in vineyard yeast confers a 41% lifespan increase. The responsible sequence in the vineyard yeast reduces the amount of DNA replication that initiates at the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) locus, a chromosome-sized region of the genome that is dedicated to the production of ribosomal RNA required for protein synthesis and growth. Strikingly, we find that calorie restriction conditions also reduce rDNA replication, potentially promoting longevity by the same mechanism. While the rDNA has been previously linked to lifespan control, how this single locus affects global cell function has remained elusive. We find that a weakly replicating rDNA promotes DNA replication across the rest of the cell's genome, perhaps through the re-allocation of replication resources from decreased rDNA demand. Our findings suggest that the cell's inability to complete genome replication is one of the major impediments to yeast longevity.
PMCID: PMC3591295  PMID: 23505383
21.  Longevity and aging 
F1000Prime Reports  2013;5:5.
Research into the biology of aging seeks to understand the basic mechanisms of aging, with the goal of extending the period of life spent free from chronic disease and disability. Aging results from molecular processes that are modulated by genetic and environmental parameters. At least some of these mechanisms of aging are broadly shared across eukaryotic species from yeast to mice, and likely humans, as well. Recent breakthroughs in aging-related research have identified conserved longevity factors, such as components of the insulin-like signaling pathway and the mechanistic target of rapamycin, and have suggested potential paths toward developing the first interventions to slow aging in humans.
PMCID: PMC3590784  PMID: 23513177
22.  A new chronological survival assay in mammalian cell culture 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(2):201-202.
PMCID: PMC3685616  PMID: 22214665
23.  mTOR Inhibition: From Aging to Autism and Beyond 
Scientifica  2013;2013:849186.
The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a highly conserved protein that regulates growth and proliferation in response to environmental and hormonal cues. Broadly speaking, organisms are constantly faced with the challenge of interpreting their environment and making a decision between “grow or do not grow.” mTOR is a major component of the network that makes this decision at the cellular level and, to some extent, the tissue and organismal level as well. Although overly simplistic, this framework can be useful when considering the myriad functions ascribed to mTOR and the pleiotropic phenotypes associated with genetic or pharmacological modulation of mTOR signaling. In this review, I will consider mTOR function in this context and attempt to summarize and interpret the growing body of literature demonstrating interesting and varied effects of mTOR inhibitors. These include robust effects on a multitude of age-related parameters and pathologies, as well as several other processes not obviously linked to aging or age-related disease.
PMCID: PMC3860151  PMID: 24379984
24.  Sir2 deletion prevents lifespan extension in 32 long-lived mutants 
Aging cell  2011;10(6):1089-1091.
Activation of Sir2-orthologs is proposed to increase lifespan downstream of dietary restriction (DR). Here we describe an examination of the effect of 32 different lifespan-extending mutations and four methods of dietary restriction on replicative lifespan (RLS) in the short-lived sir2Δ yeast strain. In every case, deletion of SIR2 prevented RLS extension; however, RLS extension was restored when both SIR2 and FOB1 were deleted in several cases, demonstrating that SIR2 is not directly required for RLS extension. These findings indicate that suppression of the sir2Δ lifespan defect is a rare phenotype among longevity interventions and suggest that sir2Δ cells senesce rapidly by a mechanism distinct from that of wild-type cells. They also demonstrate that failure to observe life span extension in a short-lived background, such as cells or animals lacking sirtuins, should be interpreted with caution.
PMCID: PMC3215821  PMID: 21902802
aging; replicative lifespan; longevity; yeast; epistasis
25.  Caffeine extends life span, improves healthspan, and delays age-associated pathology in Caenorhabditis elegans 
The longevity of an organism is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. With respect to genetic factors, a significant effort is being made to identify pharmacological agents that extend life span by targeting pathways with a defined role in the aging process. On the environmental side, the molecular mechanisms responsible for the positive influence of interventions such as dietary restriction are being explored. The environment experienced by humans in modern societies already contains countless compounds that may influence longevity. Understanding the role played by common compounds that substantially affect the aging process will be critical for predicting and interpreting the outcome of introducing new interventions. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug worldwide. Prior studies in flies, worms, and mice indicate that caffeine may positively impact age-associated neurodegenerative pathology, such as that observed in Alzheimer’s disease.
Here we report that caffeine is capable of extending life span and improving healthspan in Caenorhabditis elegans, a finding that is in agreement with a recently published screen looking for FDA-approved compounds capable of extending worm life span. Life span extension using caffeine displays epistatic interaction with two known longevity interventions: dietary restriction and reduced insulin signaling. Caffeine treatment also delays pathology in a nematode model of polyglutamine disease.
The identification of caffeine as a relevant factor in aging and healthspan in worms, combined with prior work in both humans and rodents linking caffeine consumption to reduced risk of age-associated disease, suggests that caffeine may target conserved longevity pathways. Further, it may be important to consider caffeine consumption when developing clinical interventions, particularly those designed to mimic dietary restriction or modulate insulin/IGF-1-like signaling. The positive impact of caffeine on a worm model of polyglutamine disease suggests that chronic caffeine consumption may generally enhance resistance to proteotoxic stress and may be relevant to assessing risk and developing treatments for human diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. Future work addressing the relevant targets of caffeine in models of aging and healthspan will help to clarify the underlying mechanisms and potentially identify new molecular targets for disease intervention.
PMCID: PMC3922918
Aging; Life span; Longevity; Healthspan; Worms; Caffeine; Proteotoxicity; Neurodegeneration

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