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Arch Hellen Med, 27(4), July-August 2010, 599-606


Aging: Is caloric restriction anti-aging?

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

The mechanisms that lead to the progressive aging process of an organism are multiple and complex. The theories of aging are categorized into damagebased, which focus on the progressive accumulation of damage throughout life, and program-based, which are based on the concept that aging is the outcome of a genetic program. The multiplicity of theories on the mechanisms of aging makes the search for ways to prolong life more difficult. Searching for a way to increase the life span and at the same time delay the onset of agerelated diseases has led to recommendation of the most widely used method, which is called caloric restriction. Caloric restriction is based on the reduction of food intake while, very importantly, maintaining appropriate nutritional intake. Caloric restriction gives promising results in a vast range of animal models, such as prolonging their life span and delaying the onset of ageassociated diseases, but the relevant results from research on rhesus monkeys are still pending. Questions are raised, however, regarding the efficacy of its application in humans. The main reasons are that the nutrient composition of a calorie-restricted diet is very important, and that maintaining such a diet throughout life will be quite testing and largely prone to failure, taking into account its still questionable benefits. For this reason, the field of "caloric restriction mimetics" is gaining ground and stimulating interest where humans are concerned. This area focuses on identifying compounds that, when consumed, would confer similar life prolonging and age-delaying phenotypes as caloric restriction, but with less effort. Caloric restriction mimetics sounds promising but research in the field is still in the early stages.

Key words: Aging, Caloric restriction, Longevity.

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