Calorie restriction with resveratrol key to kick-starting cell health

July 17, 2014 by Morgan Sherburne, University of Florida
Skeletal formula of trans-resveratrol. Image: Wikipedia

(Medical Xpress)—When it comes to staying healthy, it's a cell-eat-cell world. As cells age, damaged proteins and lipids accumulate within them. Impaired cell parts can send free radicals into the body, and dysfunctional proteins and lipids may break down DNA within cells, causing them to become toxic. Cells usually clean up their own damage through a "housekeeping" process called autophagy. But as the body ages and in people with certain diseases, cells' ability to do this housekeeping becomes less efficient. That means it may be harder for people to recover from cardiac events such as heart attack or other illnesses.

University of Florida researchers have found that combining with a supplement of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes, dark chocolate and blueberries, could kick-start this housekeeping process, helping heart cells recover from damage, according to a study in rats published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

"The damaged proteins and lipids remain inside cells, eventually making them toxic," said lead author Debapriya Dutta, who earned her doctorate from the University of Florida and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "We wanted to see whether an increase in autophagy would remove such damaged cellular components and make the cells healthy again."

In an earlier study published in the journal Autophagy, Dutta and UF researcher Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, showed that increasing the housekeeping process protected from cell death. In their current study, the researchers wanted to test interventions that could improve autophagy in the heart. They further investigated whether the improved process helped protect rats' against induced stress.

To study this, the researchers restricted the calorie intake of one group of 26-month-old rats—approximately equivalent to a 65-year-old human—by 20 percent over a period of six weeks. Another group received only the resveratrol supplement. A third group received both the calorie-restricted diets and the resveratrol.

"Only the group with caloric restriction plus a higher dose of resveratrol induced autophagy," said Leeuwenburgh, who is also chief of the division of the biology of aging in the University of Florida Institute on Aging.

The researchers think the combination of resveratrol and calorie restriction promotes the role of a protein called mTOR, which regulates cell growth, proliferation and survival, though the researchers say they need to further investigate exactly why the combination of interventions was more effective than either just calorie restriction or just resveratrol.

Leeuwenburgh compares cells unable to clean themselves of damaged parts to smoldering houses.

"If you're older and you have a sudden stress condition, the smoking homes become fires," Leeuwenburgh said. "A little bit of smoke is okay, but if they're not removed quickly, the smoke will turn into a fire, and the cell will start releasing proteins that will cause the breakdown of other apparently functional proteins and DNA in the cell, leading to cell demise and ultimately, organ dysfunction."

That also means cells may not be able to react as well to the onset of diseases, especially in older adults. Aggregations of plaque within neurons contribute to Alzheimer's disease, for example. But the plaque could be alleviated by spurring autophagy, which could help clean out the plaque, the researchers said. Increasing the cleaning process could also help protect themselves against inflammatory diseases and cancer.

"These kinds of diseases aren't solely due to a lack of autophagy. There are so many factors that come into play," said Dutta, who was the paper's lead author. "But if you increased autophagy for many of these pathologies, it can help the body fight the disease."

Dutta said the next steps are to test -enhancing treatments in different disease models, eventually starting clinical trials including the combination of weight loss and , exercise and other natural compounds such as papaya.

Explore further: Zombie cancer cells eat themselves to live

Related Stories

Zombie cancer cells eat themselves to live

April 5, 2014
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in the journal Cell Reports and presented today at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Conference 2014 shows that the cellular process ...

Discovery of protein that regulates cellular recycling yields new drug targets

June 2, 2014
Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered a key regulator of autophagy, the cellular recycling process involved in many human diseases. The finding illuminates potential new drug targets for cancer, neurodegeneration ...

Obesity suppresses cellular process critical to kidney health

October 5, 2013
Obesity increases a chronic kidney disease patient's risk of developing kidney failure.

Protein identified that can lengthen our life?

February 27, 2012
Cells use various methods to break down and recycle worn-out components—autophagy is one of them. In the dissertation she will be defending at Umea University in Sweden, Karin Håberg shows that the protein SNX18 ...

Restarting stalled autophagy a potential approach to treating Niemann-Pick disease

January 9, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Whitehead Institute researchers have determined that the lipid storage disorder Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1) disease is caused not only by defects in cholesterol processing but also in autophagy—a key ...

Autophagy predicts which cancer cells live and die when faced with anti-cancer drugs

January 10, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—When a tumor is treated with an anti-cancer drug, some cells die and, unfortunately, some cells tend to live. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the journal Nature Cell Biology details ...

Recommended for you

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.