How to Prevent Ageing

Professor David Le Couteur
Professor of Geriatric Medicine, The University of Sydney; Director, Centre for Research and Education on Ageing; President of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists
1 November 2012 - 12:00pm
Rountree Room 356, Biological Sciences Building

Ageing is malleable and can be influenced by manipulating genes and nutrition (e.g. caloric restriction). Some medications (rapamycin, resveratrol) that act on the cellular pathways that respond to nutritional stimuli also appear to delay ageing and, in some cases, increase lifespan.

Our study shows that these same pathways can be modulated by titrating the balance of macronutrients in ad libitum-fed mice. Mice fed a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates have low circulating levels of branched chain amino acids, with subsequent reduction of mTOR activation and circulating insulin – and increased lifespan. This is associated with improved glucose tolerance but, paradoxically, increased body fat as a result of increased appetite due to protein leverage.

These results suggest that ageing can be delayed by altering the balance of macronutrients in animals with free access to feed and no requirement for reduction of food intake.