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Mutat Res. 1996 Feb 19;350(1):25-34.

The beneficial effects of dietary restriction: reduced oxidative damage and enhanced apoptosis.

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Environmental Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


There is compelling evidence for the central role of oxidative damage in the aging process and for the participation of reactive oxygen species in tumor initiation and promotion. Caloric restriction (CR) or energy restriction retards age-associated increases in mitochondrial free-radical production and reduces the accumulation of oxidatively damaged cell components. CR has also been shown to slow down age-related declines in various repair capabilities, including some types of DNA repair. It is proposed that inhibitors of mitochondrial electron transport and/or uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation (rotenone, amytal, amiodarone, valinomycin, etc.), when used at extremely low doses, could mimic the effects of CR in model systems. The objective is to lower mitochondrial free-radical production by decreasing the fraction of electron carriers in the reduced state. In addition to a variety of other effects, CR has been shown to increase the rate of apoptosis, particularly in preneoplastic cells, and in general, to promote elevated levels of free glucocorticoids (GCs). GCs are known to induce tissue-specific apoptosis and to upregulate gap-junction-mediated intercellular communication (GJIC). Tumor promoters like phorbol esters have the opposite effect, in that they inhibit both the process of apoptosis and GJIC. The enzyme poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is thought to play a central role in apoptosis, in a manner that has been highly conserved in evolution. There is good evidence that the apoptosis-associated Ca/Mg-dependent DNA endonuclease is maintained in a latent form by being poly (ADP-ribosylated). Apoptosis would require the removal of this polymer from the endonuclease, and, most likely, its removal from topoisomerase II and histone H1 as well. The role of poly (ADP-ribose) in apoptosis, carcinogenesis, and aging could be studied by the use of modulators of PARP activity (3-aminobenzamide, 3-nitrosobenzamide, 1% ethanol, etc.), inhibitors of poly ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase activity (ethacridine, 43 degrees C, etc.), and inhibitors of the PARP-specific protease (interleukin-1 beta converting enzyme (ICE)-like protease). Also, it would be of interest to determine if CR can decrease the half-life of poly (ADP-ribose), upregulate GJIC, and modulate the activities of PARP, the glycohydrolase, and the PARP-specific protease, factors potentially important in these processes.

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