Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find link between food odors and lifespan in fruit flies

02.02.2007
Researchers hoping to learn why organisms tend to live longer if their intake of calories is restricted have made a startling discovery – in fruit flies, just the smell of food can have a negative effect on longevity.

Scientists have known for decades that restricted dietary intake can increase the lifespan of many species, but the mechanism that causes this is not understood. Short-lived organisms like the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, are studied to help unravel this mystery, and the knowledge gained could have important implications for human health.

In a paper to be published in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a group of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and the University of Houston report that exposure to food odors can modulate lifespan and partially reverse the longevity-extending effects of dietary restriction in fruit flies.

"Not only can they not have their cake – they can't smell their cake" without shortening their lifespans, said Wayne Van Voorhees, a faculty member in the Molecular Biology Program at New Mexico State University and a member of the research collaboration.

The researchers, led by Scott Pletcher of the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor, measured the lifespans of different strains of fruit flies in the presence and absence of food odors – specifically live yeast, which is an important component of the flies' diets. Exposure to food odors reduced lifespan in flies that had been subjected to dietary restriction. The reductions ranged from 6 percent to 18 percent – not as much reduction as actual consumption of more food caused, but significant enough to show that food odors have a modulating effect on lifespan.

The researchers also studied genetically altered strains of fruit flies to determine whether loss of olfactory function – the sense of smell – had an effect on lifespan. They found that in all cases, the longevity of the mutant flies was considerably greater than their wild-type controls.

The paper will be published by Science Express, an online publication of the AAAS, on Feb. 1. Science Express is used for rapid publication of selected research papers that are published later in the print version of Science.

Van Voorhies did the metabolic measurements for the study, using sensitive detectors in his laboratory at NMSU to analyze the aerobic respiration of the tiny flies. Carefully controlling the flow and oxygen content of air flowing to the flies in sealed systems, he can determine the flies' metabolic rates by analyzing the carbon dioxide they give off.

At the cellular level, this metabolic process is essentially the same in all organisms. Fruit flies and other short-lived organisms make useful "model organisms" for studies such as this because studying humans is impractical, Van Voorhies noted.

"If you are studying longevity, by definition the study is going to take longer than the lifespan of the researcher," he said.

Van Voorhies said metabolic studies of the fruit flies showed that longer lifespans in those subjected to caloric restriction were not simply a result of slower metabolism.

"A simple way to get a fruit fly to live longer is to put it at lower temperatures," he said. "It will live longer but everything is going slower in the animal, so you haven't fundamentally altered the way it has aged. So we wanted to make sure the effect of caloric restriction wasn't just slowing the animals down, and we found that it wasn't. You can have a high metabolic rate and be long-lived, and that's an encouraging observation."

Ultimately, understanding any link between human longevity and caloric intake, and the role our sense of smell may play in the process, will require more knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms at work, Van Voorhies said.

"You continue to work on the model organisms to try to figure out what the actual mechanism is, and then you can try to apply it to people," he said. "The pharmaceutical companies would like to be able to mimic the beneficial effects of caloric restriction by having you take a pill. But for that to work, you need to understand the mechanism by which caloric restriction extends longevity."

Sometimes – as in the new discovery of a link between food odors and lifespan in fruit flies – the questions get more complicated as scientists gain more knowledge.

Researchers hoping to learn why organisms tend to live longer if their intake of calories is restricted have made a startling discovery – in fruit flies, just the smell of food can have a negative effect on longevity.

Scientists have known for decades that restricted dietary intake can increase the lifespan of many species, but the mechanism that causes this is not understood. Short-lived organisms like the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, are studied to help unravel this mystery, and the knowledge gained could have important implications for human health.

In a paper to be published in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a group of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and the University of Houston report that exposure to food odors can modulate lifespan and partially reverse the longevity-extending effects of dietary restriction in fruit flies.

"Not only can they not have their cake – they can't smell their cake" without shortening their lifespans, said Wayne Van Voorhees, a faculty member in the Molecular Biology Program at New Mexico State University and a member of the research collaboration.

The researchers, led by Scott Pletcher of the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor, measured the lifespans of different strains of fruit flies in the presence and absence of food odors – specifically live yeast, which is an important component of the flies' diets. Exposure to food odors reduced lifespan in flies that had been subjected to dietary restriction. The reductions ranged from 6 percent to 18 percent – not as much reduction as actual consumption of more food caused, but significant enough to show that food odors have a modulating effect on lifespan.

The researchers also studied genetically altered strains of fruit flies to determine whether loss of olfactory function – the sense of smell – had an effect on lifespan. They found that in all cases, the longevity of the mutant flies was considerably greater than their wild-type controls.

The paper will be published by Science Express, an online publication of the AAAS, on Feb. 1. Science Express is used for rapid publication of selected research papers that are published later in the print version of Science.

Van Voorhies did the metabolic measurements for the study, using sensitive detectors in his laboratory at NMSU to analyze the aerobic respiration of the tiny flies. Carefully controlling the flow and oxygen content of air flowing to the flies in sealed systems, he can determine the flies' metabolic rates by analyzing the carbon dioxide they give off.

At the cellular level, this metabolic process is essentially the same in all organisms. Fruit flies and other short-lived organisms make useful "model organisms" for studies such as this because studying humans is impractical, Van Voorhies noted.

"If you are studying longevity, by definition the study is going to take longer than the lifespan of the researcher," he said.

Van Voorhies said metabolic studies of the fruit flies showed that longer lifespans in those subjected to caloric restriction were not simply a result of slower metabolism.

"A simple way to get a fruit fly to live longer is to put it at lower temperatures," he said. "It will live longer but everything is going slower in the animal, so you haven't fundamentally altered the way it has aged. So we wanted to make sure the effect of caloric restriction wasn't just slowing the animals down, and we found that it wasn't. You can have a high metabolic rate and be long-lived, and that's an encouraging observation."

Ultimately, understanding any link between human longevity and caloric intake, and the role our sense of smell may play in the process, will require more knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms at work, Van Voorhies said.

"You continue to work on the model organisms to try to figure out what the actual mechanism is, and then you can try to apply it to people," he said. "The pharmaceutical companies would like to be able to mimic the beneficial effects of caloric restriction by having you take a pill. But for that to work, you need to understand the mechanism by which caloric restriction extends longevity."

Sometimes – as in the new discovery of a link between food odors and lifespan in fruit flies – the questions get more complicated as scientists gain more knowledge.

Wayne Van Voorhies | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nmsu.edu

Further reports about: Baylor Dietary Venus Express Voorhies caloric fruit flies lifespan longevity metabolic metabolic rate odors publication

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>