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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 Feb 5;299(1):79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.10.044. Epub 2008 Nov 11.

Hungry for life: How the arcuate nucleus and neuropeptide Y may play a critical role in mediating the benefits of calorie restriction.

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  • 1Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Laboratory studies consistently demonstrate extended lifespan in animals on calorie restriction (CR), where total caloric intake is reduced by 10-40% but adequate nutrition is otherwise maintained. CR has been further shown to delay the onset and severity of chronic diseases associated with aging such as cancer, and to extend the functional health span of important faculties like cognition. Less understood are the underlying mechanisms through which CR might act to induce such alterations. One theory postulates that CR's beneficial effects are intimately tied to the neuroendocrine response to low energy availability, of which the arcuate nucleus in the hypothalamus plays a pivotal role. Neuropeptide Y (NPY), a neurotransmitter in the front line of the arcuate response to low energy availability, is the primary hunger signal affected by CR and therefore may be a critical mechanism for lifespan extension.

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