Published on December 9th, 20120
Mechanism by which “Ketogenic Diet” prevents Aging
Researchers in the laboratory Gladstone Institutes have identified a key role of a chemical compound in aging of the human body. Mechanism identified by the team led by Dr. Eric Verdine could lead to development of new therapies to treat and prevent a number of diseases associated with aging, including heart problems, Alzheimer’s and many cancers.
Researchers have examined the role of βOHB compound (β-hydroxybutyrate), one of the ketone bodies are produced in the body during a diet with reduced calories or a ketogenic diet (ketogenic diet build a high-fat diet, with an adequate amount of protein and low in carbohydrates, which mimics certain aspects of starvation, forcing the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates).
If these ketone bodies such as βOHB can become toxic when present in high concentrations in people with conditions such as type I diabetes, researchers have found that when present in low concentrations, βOHB helps protect cells from oxidative stress that occurs when certain molecules are present in toxic quantities in the body, contributing to the aging process.
“We found that βOHB - the main energy source of the body during physical activity or job - block a class of enzymes that would otherwise promote oxidative stress. So protect aging cells”, explained by Dr. Berdin.
Oxidative stress occurs as cells use oxygen to produce energy, but this activity releases and other potentially toxic molecules known as “free radicals”. As cells age, they become ineffective in fighting free radicals, so they have a detrimental effect, facilitating aging. The researchers found that βOHB helps delay the aging process.
Researchers found that diets with reduced calories, βOHB blocking compound class of enzymes known as HDAC (histone deacetylases). These enzymes normally blocked two genes which play a key role in combating oxidative stress. By blocking these enzymes, the two genes can be activated, helping cells resist oxidative stress.
“This discovery represents a major step forward in understanding the mechanism by which these enzymes, which was already known to play a role in aging and neurological diseases”, said Katerina Akassoglou, a coauthor of the study.
“The results observed are relevant to a number of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson, Autism and many other problems affecting millions of people and for which no treatment at this time”, added Akkassoglou.
“Identification of βOHB chemical compound as the link between caloric restriction and oxidative stress protection allows researchers to explore new ways to fight disease”, said Tadahiro Shimazu, a researcher in Dr. Verdine team.
The study was published in the prestigious journal Science.