Aging

Metformin's recipe for a long life

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Science  27 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6191, pp. 1477-1478
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6191.1477-c

Metformin, a drug commonly prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes, has side effects, but some of these are beneficial, such as fighting certain cancers and increasing longevity. By studying the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, a model of aging, De Haes et al. discovered the molecular basis for how metformin may prolong lives. In treated worms, metformin promoted mitochondrial respiration, a process that converts nutrients into energy for the cell. Mitochondrial respiration also produces byproducts called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can react with proteins, harming them. When the worms produced limited amounts of ROS, however, the life span of worms increased. The increase in life span required a protein called peroxiredoxin-2, which is oxidized by ROS and may then activate other enzymes to produce effects that promote longevity.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1321776111 (2014).

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