Aging can be described as the steady decline in overall function, and increase in incidence of age-related diseases, over an organism’s lifetime. Remarkably, this process can be radically delayed through the reduction of dietary intake without malnutrition, termed Dietary Restriction (DR). In C. elegans, a number of different DR regimens have been developed that affect the aging process to varying degrees and appear to operate via independent and overlapping genetic pathways. The most efficacious DR regimen in worms utilises an axenic (no other species present), nutrient rich media, achieving lifespan extension of up to 150%. This effect is dependent on the absence of as-yet undefined signals from live, metabolically active E. coli, the worm’s food source. In addition, transient DR of otherwise fully fed worms results in stable, long-term changes in gene expression, particularly of genes associated with lipid metabolism, with consequences for longevity, implying a permanent change in the epigenome. We are interested in using metabolomics, epigenomics and modelling to understand how DR can lead to lifespan extension.
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