Fruit Flies Provide Insight into Anti-Aging

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AMPK Enzyme and Anti-AgingThe other day I was sitting on the couch drinking a glass of red wine, and snacking on some almonds. I was proactively making a healthy choice. This is because red wine, grapes, and nuts contain resveratrol, which is known to protect against age-related diseases within animal studies.

I then noticed a fly on the wall. I must have left the window open, and didn’t notice. And while your natural reaction would be to swat it, the fly reminded me of a study, published in the journal Cell Reports, I had recently read.

This study explored the impact that the manipulation of the enzyme AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) levels in specific organs of adult fruit flies had on their lifespan, cellular signs of aging, and autophagy—a common physiological process known to destroy cells in the body.

A team of researchers at the University of California used transgenic technology to boost AMPK levels within the flies’ nervous systems. This produced autophagy within the brain, which extended the lives of the flies. The AMPK also induced autophagy in the intestines, improved intestinal aging, and reduced any signs of muscle tissue aging. Overall, induced autophagy increased the lifespans of the flies.

According to another review, insulin and the insulin-growth-factor-1 signaling pathway is known to improve lifespan in flies, mice (mammals), and worms. The review shows that the removal of neurosecretory cells from insulin-like peptides in fruit flies produced a 10%–33% lifespan increase. The review also observed the connection between insulin and the IGF-1 signaling pathway and the dietary restriction of calories in fly, mice, and worm models. The study suggested that a reduction in nutrient availability or temperature change could activate the survival pathway.

The fruit fly study provides solid evidence that autophagy may slow the aging process. It also opens the door to research that examines how autophagy activation can slow aging within human tissue and the tissue of other mammals.

There are also other benefits of AMPK in association with anti-aging and longevity. AMPK is known to maintain energy within the cell, and it is activated within the skeletal muscle. It is also beneficial for increasing weight loss, and reducing the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. These are all beneficial ways to increase your lifespan.

You can increase your body’s AMPK activity through exercise and consuming certain foods, such as red pepper, curcumin, and garlic, and those foods high in polyphenols like tea, vegetables, and dry legumes.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Ulgherait, M., et al., “AMPK Modulates Tissue and Organismal Aging in a Non-Cell-Autonomous Manner,” Cell Reports September 24, 2014; 8(6): 1767–1780, doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.08.006.
Wein, H., “Fruit Flies Yield Insights Into Aging,” National Institutes of Health web site, September 22, 2014;
Narasimhan, S.D., et al., “Converging Pathways in Lifespan Regulation,” Current Biology: CB August 11, 2009; 19(15): R657–R666.
Spano, M., “Fat-Burning Foods: Reach Your Goal Faster By Boosting AMPK Naturally,” FitnessRX for Women web site, March 9, 2013;