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Open Longev Sci. 2010;3(10):38-47.

Impact of Moderate Calorie Restriction on the Reproductive Neuroendocrine Axis of Male Rhesus Macaques.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, Oregon 97006.


The impact of moderate calorie restriction on reproductive neuroendocrine function was investigated in young adult male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). The animals were subjected to either 30% calorie restriction (CR; n=5), or were fed a standard control diet (CON; n=5), starting during their peripubertal period. Plasma LH and testosterone concentrations were examined after 7 years of differential dietary treatment, and were found to be similar in both groups, both during the day and during the night. Microarray profiling of pituitary gland and testicular gene expression was performed after 8 years of treatment, using GeneChip® Rhesus Macaque Genome Arrays (Affymetrix), and showed very little effect of caloric restriction. Using a 1.5-fold difference threshold, our microarray analysis revealed differential expression of only 145 probesets in the pituitary gland and 260 in the testes, out of a total of >54,000. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR performed on pituitary gland mRNA corroborated the microarray findings for selected modulated genes, including TSH receptor (TSHR) and sperm-specific antigen 2 (SSFA2). Most notably, significantly lower expression of TSH receptor mRNA was observed in the pituitary of CR compared to CON animals. Also, significantly lower expression of the glycoprotein hormone alpha subunit (CGA) was observed in CR animals, and this finding was further corroborated using quantitative real-time RT-PCR. No significant diet-induced changes were detected in the testis for genes associated with reproduction, circadian clocks, or oxidative stress. There is mounting evidence that CR may promote health and longevity in a wide range of organisms, including nonhuman primates. Importantly, our data suggest that moderate CR has no obvious lasting detrimental effect on the reproductive neuroendocrine axis of long-lived primates, and has only a modest influence on pituitary and testicular gene expression.

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