Genome-Environment Interactions That Modulate Aging: Powerful Targets for Drug Discovery
ABSTRACT Aging is the major biomedical challenge of this century. The percentage of elderly people, and consequently the incidence of age-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, is projected to increase considerably in the coming decades. Findings from model organisms have revealed that aging is a surprisingly plastic process that can be manipulated by both genetic and environmental factors. Here we review a broad range of findings in model organisms, from environmental to genetic manipulations of aging, with a focus on those with underlying gene-environment interactions with potential for drug discovery and development. One well-studied dietary manipulation of aging is caloric restriction, which consists of restricting the food intake of organisms without triggering malnutrition and has been shown to retard aging in model organisms. Caloric restriction is already being used as a paradigm for developing compounds that mimic its life-extension effects and might therefore have therapeutic value. The potential for further advances in this field is immense; hundreds of genes in several pathways have recently emerged as regulators of aging and caloric restriction in model organisms. Some of these genes, such as IGF1R and FOXO3, have also been associated with human longevity in genetic association studies. The parallel emergence of network approaches offers prospects to develop multitarget drugs and combinatorial therapies. Understanding how the environment modulates aging-related genes may lead to human applications and disease therapies through diet, lifestyle, or pharmacological interventions. Unlocking the capacity to manipulate human aging would result in unprecedented health benefits.
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ABSTRACT: Living and taking recreation in rural and coastal environments promote health and wellbeing, although the causal factors involved are unclear. It has been proposed that such environments provide a counter to the stresses of everyday living, leading to enhanced mental and physical health. Living in natural environments will result in airborne exposure to a wide range of biogenic chemicals through inhalation and ingestion of airborne microbiota and particles. The "biogenics" hypothesis formulated here is that regular exposure to low concentrations of mixtures of natural compounds and toxins in natural environments confers pleiotropic health benefits by inhibiting the activities of interconnected cell signalling systems, particularly PI3K/Akt/mTORC1. When overactive, Akt and mTOR (mTORC1) can lead to many pathological processes including cancers, diabetes, inflammation, immunosuppression, and neurodegenerative diseases. There is a substantial body of evidence that many natural products (i.e., from bacteria, algae, fungi and higher plants) inhibit the activities of these protein kinases. Other mTOR-related interconnected metabolic control "switches" (e.g., PTEN & NF-κB), autophagy and other cytoprotective processes are also affected by natural products. The "biogenics" hypothesis formulated here is that regular intermittent exposure to a mixture of airborne biogenic compounds in natural environments confers pleiotropic health benefits by inhibiting activities of the highly interconnected PI3K/Akt/mTORC1 system. It is proposed that future experimental exposures to biogenic aerosols in animal models coupled with epidemiology, should target the activities of the various kinases in the PI3K/Akt/mTORC1 systems and related physiological processes for selected urban, rural and coastal populations in order to test this hypothesis. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Environmental Research 03/2015; 140:65-75. DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2015.03.015 · 3.95 Impact Factor
01/2015; 2(1):31. DOI:10.4103/2347-8659.149421
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ABSTRACT: It is generally considered that Parkinson's disease is induced by specific agents that degenerate a clearly defined population of dopaminergic neurons. Data commented in this review suggest that this assumption is not as clear as is often thought and that aging may be critical for Parkinson's disease. Neurons degenerating in Parkinson's disease also degenerate in normal aging, and the different agents involved in the etiology of this illness are also involved in aging. Senescence is a wider phenomenon affecting cells all over the body, whereas Parkinson's disease seems to be restricted to certain brain centers and cell populations. However, reviewed data suggest that Parkinson's disease may be a local expression of aging on cell populations which, by their characteristics (high number of synaptic terminals and mitochondria, unmyelinated axons, etc.), are highly vulnerable to the agents promoting aging. The development of new knowledge about Parkinson's disease could be accelerated if the research on aging and Parkinson's disease were planned together, and the perspective provided by gerontology gains relevance in this field. © 2015 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Aging cell 02/2015; 14(3). DOI:10.1111/acel.12312 · 5.94 Impact Factor