Decreased energy metabolism extends life span in Caenorhabditis elegans without reducing oxidative damage

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Benard Lab

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Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


On the basis of the free radical and rate of living theories of aging, it has been proposed that decreased metabolism leads to increased longevity through a decreased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this article, we examine the relationship between mitochondrial energy metabolism and life span by using the Clk mutants in Caenorhabditis elegans. Clk mutants are characterized by slow physiologic rates, delayed development, and increased life span. This phenotype suggests that increased life span may be achieved by decreasing energy expenditure. To test this hypothesis, we identified six novel Clk mutants in a screen for worms that have slow defecation and slow development and that can be maternally rescued. Interestingly, all 11 Clk mutants have increased life span despite the fact that slow physiologic rates were used as the only screening criterion. Although mitochondrial function is decreased in the Clk mutants, ATP levels are normal or increased, suggesting decreased energy utilization. To determine whether the longevity of the Clk mutants results from decreased production of ROS, we examined sensitivity to oxidative stress and oxidative damage. We found no evidence for systematically increased resistance to oxidative stress or decreased oxidative damage in the Clk mutants despite normal or elevated levels of superoxide dismutases. Overall, our findings suggest that decreased energy metabolism can lead to increased life span without decreased production of ROS.

DOI of Published Version



Genetics. 2010 Jun;185(2):559-71. doi: 10.1534/genetics.110.115378. Epub 2010 Apr 9. Link to article on publisher's site

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