Macronutrient balance, reproductive function, and lifespan in aging mice.
ABSTRACT: In invertebrates, reproductive output and lifespan are profoundly impacted by dietary macronutrient balance, with these traits achieving their maxima on different diet compositions, giving the appearance of a resource-based tradeoff between reproduction and longevity. For the first time in a mammal, to our knowledge, we evaluate the effects of dietary protein (P), carbohydrate (C), fat (F), and energy (E) on lifespan and reproductive function in aging male and female mice. We show that, as in invertebrates, the balance of macronutrients has marked and largely opposing effects on reproductive and longevity outcomes. Mice were provided ad libitum access to one of 25 diets differing in P, C, F, and E content, with reproductive outcomes assessed at 15 months. An optimal balance of macronutrients exists for reproductive function, which, for most measures, differs from the diets that optimize lifespan, and this response differs with sex. Maximal longevity was achieved on diets containing a P:C ratio of 1:13 in males and 1:11 for females. Diets that optimized testes mass and epididymal sperm counts (indicators of gamete production) contained a higher P:C ratio (1:1) than those that maximized lifespan. In females, uterine mass (an indicator of estrogenic activity) was also greatest on high P:C diets (1:1) whereas ovarian follicle number was greatest on P:C 3:1 associated with high-F intakes. By contrast, estrous cycling was more likely in mice on lower P:C (1:8), and the number of corpora lutea, indicative of recent ovulations, was greatest on P:C similar to those supporting greatest longevity (1:11).
Project description:Macronutrient balance is a critical contributor in modulating lifespan and health. Consumption of diets rich in fruits and vegetables provides numerous health benefits. The interactions among macronutrients and botanicals and how they influence aging and health remain elusive. Here we employed a nutritional geometry approach to investigate the interplay among dietary fat, sugar, protein and antioxidant- and polyphenolic-rich freeze-dried açai pulp in modulating lifespan and reproductive output in the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew). Individual flies were cultured on one of the 24 diets made from a combination of 1) sugar and yeast extract (SY) at four ratios, 2) palmitic acid, a saturated fat, at two concentrations and 3) freeze-dried açai pulp at three concentrations. Fat addition decreased lifespan in females on the sugar only diet and the diet with a low SY ratio, while decreasing lifetime reproductive output in flies on the diet with the low SY ratio when compared to SY ratio-matched low fat controls. Açai supplementation promoted survival, while decreasing lifetime reproductive output, in flies on diets with high fat and high sugar but not other diets when compared to diet-matched non-supplemented controls. These findings reveal that the impact of fat and açai on lifespan and reproductive output depends on the dietary content of other macronutrients. Our results reveal the intricate interplay among macronutrients and nutraceuticals, and underscore the importance of taking macronutrient balance into consideration in designing dietary interventions for aging and health.
Project description:Phosphorus has been identified as an important determinant of nutrition-related biological variation. The macronutrients protein (P) and carbohydrates (C), both alone and interactively, are known to affect animal performance. No study, however, has investigated the importance of phosphorus relative to dietary protein or carbohydrates, or the interactive effects of phosphorus with these macronutrients, on fitness-related traits in animals. We used a nutritional geometry framework to address this question in adult field crickets (Gryllus veletis). Our results showed that lifespan, weight gain, acoustic mate signalling and egg production were maximized on diets with different P : C ratios, that phosphorus did not positively affect any of these fitness traits, and that males and females had different optimal macronutrient intake ratios for reproductive performance. When given a choice, crickets selected diets that maximized both lifespan and reproductive performance by preferentially eating diets with low P : C ratios, and females selected diets with a higher P : C ratio than males. Conversely, phosphorus intake was not regulated. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of disentangling the influences of different nutrients, and of quantifying both their individual and interactive effects, on animal fitness traits, so as to gain a more integrative understanding of their nutritional ecology.
Project description:The fundamental questions of what represents a macronutritionally balanced diet and how this maintains health and longevity remain unanswered. Here, the Geometric Framework, a state-space nutritional modeling method, was used to measure interactive effects of dietary energy, protein, fat, and carbohydrate on food intake, cardiometabolic phenotype, and longevity in mice fed one of 25 diets ad libitum. Food intake was regulated primarily by protein and carbohydrate content. Longevity and health were optimized when protein was replaced with carbohydrate to limit compensatory feeding for protein and suppress protein intake. These consequences are associated with hepatic mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation and mitochondrial function and, in turn, related to circulating branched-chain amino acids and glucose. Calorie restriction achieved by high-protein diets or dietary dilution had no beneficial effects on lifespan. The results suggest that longevity can be extended in ad libitum-fed animals by manipulating the ratio of macronutrients to inhibit mTOR activation.
Project description:All organisms need to be capable of adapting to changes in the availability and composition of nutrients. Over 75 years ago, researchers discovered that a calorie restricted (CR) diet could significantly extend the lifespan of rats, and since then a CR diet has been shown to increase lifespan and healthspan in model organisms ranging from yeast to non-human primates. In this review, we discuss the effects of a CR diet on metabolism and healthspan, and highlight emerging evidence that suggests that dietary composition - the precise macronutrients that compose the diet - may be just as important as caloric content. In particular, we discuss recent evidence that suggests protein quality may influence metabolic health. Finally, we discuss key metabolic pathways which may influence the response to CR diets and altered macronutrient composition. Understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the effects of CR and dietary composition on health and longevity may allow the design of novel therapeutic approaches to age-related diseases.
Project description:Excreted small-molecule signals can bias developmental trajectories and physiology in diverse animal species. However, the chemical identity of these signals remains largely obscure. Here we report identification of an unusual N-acylated glutamine derivative, nacq#1, that accelerates reproductive development and shortens lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans. Produced predominantly by C. elegans males, nacq#1 hastens onset of sexual maturity in hermaphrodites by promoting exit from the larval dauer diapause and by accelerating late larval development. Even at picomolar concentrations, nacq#1 shortens hermaphrodite lifespan, suggesting a trade-off between reproductive investment and longevity. Acceleration of development by nacq#1 requires chemosensation and is dependent on three homologs of vertebrate steroid hormone receptors. Unlike ascaroside pheromones, which are restricted to nematodes, fatty acylated amino acid derivatives similar to nacq#1 have been reported from humans and invertebrates, suggesting that related compounds may serve signaling functions throughout metazoa.
Project description:Gene-diet interactions play a crucial but poorly understood role in susceptibility to obesity. Accordingly, the development of genetically tractable model systems to study the influence of diets in obesity-prone genetic backgrounds is a focus of current research. Here I present a modified synthetic Drosophila diet optimized for timely larval development, a stage dedicated to energy storage. Specifically increasing the levels of individual macronutrients-carbohydrate, lipid, or protein-resulted in markedly different organismal effects. A high-carbohydrate diet adversely affected the timing of development, size, early lifespan and body fat. Strikingly, quadrupling the amount of dietary lipids had none of these effects. Diets rich in protein appeared to be the most beneficial, as larvae developed faster, with no change in size, into long-lived adults. I believe this synthetic diet will significantly facilitate the study of gene-diet interactions in organismal energy balance.
Project description:Dietary restriction (DR) is one of the main experimental paradigms to investigate the mechanisms that determine lifespan and aging. Yet, the exact nutritional parameters responsible for DR remain unclear. Recently, the advent of the geometric framework of nutrition (GF) has refocussed interest from calories to dietary macronutrients. However, GF experiments focus on invertebrates, with the importance of macronutrients in vertebrates still widely debated. This has led to the suggestion of a fundamental difference in the mode of action of DR between vertebrates and invertebrates, questioning the suggestion of an evolutionarily conserved mechanism. The use of dietary dilution rather than restriction in GF studies makes comparison with traditional DR studies difficult. Here, using a novel nonmodel vertebrate system (the stickleback fish, Gasterosteus aculeatus), we test the effect of macronutrient versus calorie intake on key fitness-related traits, both using the GF and avoiding dietary dilution. We find that the intake of macronutrients rather than calories determines both mortality risk and reproduction. Male mortality risk was lowest on intermediate lipid intakes, and female risk was generally reduced by low protein intakes. The effect of macronutrient intake on reproduction was similar between the sexes, with high protein intakes maximizing reproduction. Our results provide, to our knowledge, the first evidence that macronutrient, not caloric, intake predicts changes in mortality and reproduction in the absence of dietary dilution. This supports the suggestion of evolutionary conservation in the effect of diet on lifespan, but via variation in macronutrient intake rather than calories.
Project description:The current molecular understanding of the aging process derives almost exclusively from the study of random or targeted single-gene mutations in highly inbred laboratory species, mostly invertebrates. Little information is available as to the genetic mechanisms responsible for natural lifespan variation and the evolution of lifespan, especially in vertebrates. Here, we investigated the pattern of positive selection in annual (i.e., short-lived) and nonannual (i.e., longer-lived) African killifishes to identify a genomic substrate for evolution of annual life history (and reduced lifespan). We identified genes under positive selection in all steps of mitochondrial biogenesis: mitochondrial (mt) DNA replication, transcription from mt promoters, processing and stabilization of mt RNAs, mt translation, assembly of respiratory chain complexes, and electron transport chain. Signs of paralleled evolution (i.e., evolution in more than one branch of Nothobranchius phylogeny) are observed in four out of five steps. Moreover, some genes under positive selection in Nothobranchius are under positive selection also in long-lived mammals such as bats and mole-rats. Complexes of the respiratory chain are formed in a coordinates multistep process where nuclearly and mitochondrially encoded components are assembled and inserted into the inner mitochondrial membrane. The coordination of this process is named mitonuclear balance, and experimental manipulations of mitonuclear balance can increase longevity of laboratory species. Our data strongly indicate that these genes are also casually linked to evolution lifespan in vertebrates.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: Short post-reproductive lifespan is widespread across species, but prolonged post-reproductive life-stages of potential adaptive significance have been reported only in few mammals with extreme longevity. Long post-reproductive lifespan contradicts classical evolutionary predictions of simultaneous senescence in survival and reproduction, and raises the question of whether extreme longevity in mammals promotes such a life-history. Among terrestrial mammals, elephants share the features with great apes and humans, of having long lifespan and offspring with long dependency. However, little data exists on the frequency of post-reproductive lifespan in elephants. Here we use extensive demographic records on semi-captive Asian elephants (n?=?1040) and genealogical data on pre-industrial women (n?=?5336) to provide the first comparisons of age-specific reproduction, survival and post-reproductive lifespan in both of these long-lived species. RESULTS: We found that fertility decreased after age 50 in elephants, but the pattern differed from a total loss of fertility in menopausal women with many elephants continuing to reproduce at least until the age of 65 years. The probability of entering a non-reproductive state increased steadily in elephants from the earliest age of reproduction until age 65, with the longer living elephants continuing to reproduce until older ages, in contrast to humans whose termination probability increased rapidly after age 35 and reached 1 at 56 years, but did not depend on longevity. Post-reproductive lifespan reached 11-17 years in elephants and 26-27 years in humans living until old age (depending on method), but whereas half of human adult lifespan (of those reproductive females surviving to the age of 5% fecundity) was spent as post-reproductive, only one eighth was in elephants. Consequently, although some elephants have long post-reproductive lifespans, relatively few individuals reach such a phase and the decline in fertility generally parallels declines in survivorship in contrast to humans with a decoupling of senescence in somatic and reproductive functions. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the reproductive and survival patterns of Asian elephants differ from other long-lived animals exhibiting menopause, such as humans, and extreme longevity alone does not promote the evolution of menopause or post-reproductive lifespan, adding weight to the unusual kin-selected benefits suggested to favour such traits in humans and killer whales.
Project description:High-protein diets shorten lifespan in many organisms. Is it because protein digestion is energetically costly or because the final products (the amino acids) are harmful? To answer this question while circumventing the life-history trade-off between reproduction and longevity, we fed sterile ant workers on diets based on whole proteins or free amino acids. We found that (i) free amino acids shortened lifespan even more than proteins; (ii) the higher the amino acid-to-carbohydrate ratio, the shorter ants lived and the lower their lipid reserves; (iii) for the same amino acid-to-carbohydrate ratio, ants eating free amino acids had more lipid reserves than those eating whole proteins; and (iv) on whole protein diets, ants seem to regulate food intake by prioritizing sugar, while on free amino acid diets, they seem to prioritize amino acids. To test the effect of the amino acid profile, we tested diets containing proportions of each amino acid that matched the ant's exome; surprisingly, longevity was unaffected by this change. We further tested diets with all amino acids under-represented except one, finding that methionine, serine, threonine and phenylalanine are especially harmful. All together, our results show certain amino acids are key elements behind the high-protein diet reduction in lifespan.