Calorie restriction has been advertised as the proverbial fountain of youth. Support for this believe comes from the observation that calorie restriction extends lifespan in a wide range of organisms, such as monkeys, mice and also the unicellular baker’s yeast. Especially in the latter organism, researchers have been eager to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying the lifespan extending effect of calorie restriction.
However, researchers from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science (Molecular Systems Biology group of the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology and Statistics & Probability group of the Johann Bernoulli Institute) now report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) that the life span extending effect of calorie restriction may be solely due to an artifact of the 50-year old method that until recently was the sole method to determine life span in yeast cells.
For their studies, the researchers from the Molecular Systems Biology group around Prof. Matthias Heinemann used a novel microfluidics-based technology to microscopically follow individual yeast cells during their entire lifespan. The new method does not only generate lifespan data in a less labor intensive manner, but also under more constant experimental conditions. Using the microfluidics-based setup the earlier reported life-span extending effect of calorie restrictions vanished suggesting that a reduction in calories alone does not extend yeast lifespan.
This study, which will likely arise controversy in the yeast aging field, has already led to a first commentary in
Contact: Prof. Matthias Heinemann
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