Biological Secrets Unlocked of How Eating Less Extends Lifespan

Wednesday - 12/1/2010, 11:46am EST

For decades, scientists have been searching for the fundamental biological secrets of how eating less extends a lifespan.

It's been well documented in species ranging from spiders to monkeys that a diet with consistently fewer calories can dramatically slow the process of aging and improve health in old age. But how such a diet acts at the most basic level to influence metabolism and the decline of tissues and cells has largely remained a mystery.

Now, team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin describe a molecular pathway that is a key determinant of the aging process. The study focused on an enzyme known as Sirt-3.

The finding not only helps explain the events that contribute to aging, but also provides a rational basis for devising interventions, including drugs that may slow aging.