Aging is a process known to be associated with diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. As a result, there is a lot of interest in better understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the aging process in the hope of developing interventions to delay aging and aging-related degenerative diseases in humans. The most effective environmental manipulation for extending lifespan to date is caloric restriction; a dietary regime that restricts calorie intake and has been shown to decrease age-associated diseases and improve longevity.
In a review published this week in BMC Medicine, Prof. Tollefsbol and colleagues review the evidence of epigenetic regulation in response to caloric restriction. Epigenetic regulation is a process by which genes, in response to environmental cues, are differentially regulated with chemical modifications to the DNA that cause the gene structure to physically change, either activating or suppressing its activity. Recently recognized as major contributors to nutrition-related longevity and aging control, enhanced understanding of epigenetic changes in aging may contribute to clinical advances in treatment and prevention of human aging-associated disease.