Lemurs on a diet live longer



Eating less enables lemurs to live longer and in better health. The results of the study conducted by CNRS researchers in partnership with the National Museum of Natural History and Inserm were unveiled after more than 12 years of investigation. The work was published in early April in the Communications Biology review.

The researchers of theHubert Curien Multidisciplinary Institute (IPHC) (Unistra/CNRS) seem to have pierced the secrets of longevity. Since 2006, they have put lemurs on diets, an ideal model because of its short lifespan that shares many physiological similarities with humans. The mouse lemurs have benefited every day since adulthood and throughout their lives from a caloric intake reduced by 30% compared to that given to their counterparts. That is to say more than sixty specimens in total living in colony at the National Museum of Natural History.

The beneficial effect of chronic caloric restriction on longevity had already been established in short-lived species such as the worm, the fly, the mouse, but remained controversial in primates. Twelve years after the start of the lemurs study, the animals died and the first conclusions are irrevocable.

A lifespan increased by almost 50%

Cardio-vascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, cancer ... "Caloric restriction decreases the prevalence of age-related diseases and is beneficial over the lifespan, increased by almost 50% compared to control animals," says Stéphane Blanc, researcher at the IPHC. All with a preservation of motor skills, without any alteration in cognitive performance.

Next step for researchers: to study the mechanisms at work in the tissues of the deceased primates. A third group of lemurs fed with a diet enriched with resveratrol, a compound found in certain foods such as grapes, should also be published. "Since a caloric restriction of 30% is not realistic in humans because of socio-cultural constraints in particular, we went on to study the mimetics of caloric restriction by testing the effect of resveratrol, a polyphenol with multiple actions ".

Another line of study: to see if the same effects are achievable by restricting calorie intake by 10 to 15% but by inducing a 30% energy deficit by adding physical exercise. A regime also more realistic for an application to the human being. Eating and moving may be one of the keys to longevity ...

Marion Riegert

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