Research highlight

Ageing: Keeping old mice young at heart

Scientific Reports

August 19, 2011

The synthetic compound SRT1720 can potentially increase the lifespan and improve the health of adult mice fed a high-fat diet, suggests a paper published online in Scientific Reports.

It is thought that being overweight or obese may accelerate the ageing process by promoting inflammation and by suppressing the expressions of genes associated with longevity, such as Sirt1. Previous studies have suggested that the synthetic compound SRT1720 can activate Sirt1 in cell cultures and — in short-term studies — in obese rats and mice. Rafael de Cabo and colleagues show that adult mice fed a high-fat diet and treated with SRT1720 experience increased mean and maximum life spans. After more than 80 weeks of treatment with the compound, the mice were shown to have a gene expression profile similar to mice on a lean diet, and benefitted from improved metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and liver and pancreas function.

There is ongoing debate as to whether SRT1720 activates Sirt1 directly and the authors cannot be certain whether the effects on lifespan and health shown in the present study result from direct or indirect Sirt1 activation by the compound. However, the research does indicate that long-term treatment of obese mice with SRT1720 allows them to life longer, healthier lives. Further research will be needed in order to one day translate these findings to clinical practice for improving lifespan and health in humans.

doi: 10.1038/srep00070

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