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Dissecting fruit flies’ varying responses to life-extension diet

A cartoon of an elderly fruit-fly enjoying his breakfast. The effects of calorie-restricted diets on fruit fly aging and lifespans is not uniform across different strains. A new study looks at small molecules involved in cell metabolism to see why this inconsistency occurs. Credit: Alice C. Gray Changes in a few small molecules involved in a cell’s metabolism seem to indicate whether a restricted “life extension” diet will actually extend, shorten, or have no effect on lifespan, a study of fruit flies has found.

The findings suggest that analyzing the level of small molecules in cells, an approach called metabolomics, may help us understand how calorie-restricted diets affect aging, and how genes, environment, and other factors influence an individual’s response to calorie restriction .

“If we can use the metabolome to understand variation in something as complex as lifespan extension, we should be able to use it to understand many other differences we see across populations,” said Kelly Jin, a computational biologist in pathology at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine. She was lead author on the new study.

A cell’s metabolism involves basic chemical reactions that occur for the cell to develop, survive, and proliferate. The small molecules that […]

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