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Exp Gerontol. 2009 May;44(5):356-62. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2009.02.008. Epub 2009 Mar 3.

Metabolic shifts due to long-term caloric restriction revealed in nonhuman primates.

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  • 1Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Division of Surgery, Oncology, Reproductive Biology and Anaesthetics, Faculty of Medicine, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.


The long-term health benefits of caloric restriction (CR) are well known but the associated molecular mechanisms are poorly understood despite increasing knowledge of transcriptional and related metabolic changes. We report new metabolic insights into long-term CR in nonhuman primates revealed by the holistic inspection of plasma (1)H NMR spectroscopic metabolic and lipoprotein profiles. The results revealed attenuation of aging-dependant alterations of lipoprotein and energy metabolism by CR, noted by relative increase in HDL and reduction in VLDL levels. Metabonomic analysis also revealed animals exhibiting distinct metabolic trajectories from aging that correlated with higher insulin sensitivity. The plasma profiles of insulin-sensitive animals were marked by higher levels of gluconate and acetate suggesting a CR-modulated increase in metabolic flux through the pentose-phosphate pathway. The metabonomic findings, particularly those that parallel improved insulin sensitivity, are consistent with diminished adiposity in CR monkeys despite aging. The metabolic profile and the associated pathways are compatible with our previous findings that CR-induced gene transcriptional changes in tissue suggest the critical regulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors as a key mechanism. The metabolic phenotyping provided in this study can be used to define a reference molecular profile of CR-associated health benefits and longevity in symbiotic superorganisms and man.

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