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NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2016 Feb 18;2:16004. doi: 10.1038/npjamd.2016.4. eCollection 2016.

Yeast longevity promoted by reversing aging-associated decline in heavy isotope content.

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Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


Dysregulation of metabolism develops with organismal aging. Both genetic and environmental manipulations promote longevity by effectively diverting various metabolic processes against aging. How these processes converge on the metabolome is not clear. Here we report that the heavy isotopic forms of common elements, a universal feature of metabolites, decline in yeast cells undergoing chronological aging. Supplementation of deuterium, a heavy hydrogen isotope, through heavy water (D2O) uptake extends yeast chronological lifespan (CLS) by up to 85% with minimal effects on growth. The CLS extension by D2O bypasses several known genetic regulators, but is abrogated by calorie restriction and mitochondrial deficiency. Heavy water substantially suppresses endogenous generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and slows the pace of metabolic consumption and disposal. Protection from aging by heavy isotopes might result from kinetic modulation of biochemical reactions. Altogether, our findings reveal a novel perspective of aging and new means for promoting longevity.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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