Cell nonautonomous activation of flavin-containing monooxygenase promotes longevity and health span

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Science  11 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6266, pp. 1375-1378
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9257

Aging: All in the head—and the gut

The effects of hypoxia and caloric restriction, both of which extend life span in Caenorhabditis elegans, converge on the activation of an enzyme in cells of the intestine. Leiser et al. show that the life-extending effects of hypoxia begin in neurons with transcriptional activation by hypoxia-inducible factor–1 and increased serotonergic signaling. These effects lead to increased production of flavin-containing monooxygenase-2 (FMO-2) in the intestine, which increased longevity. Finding the relevant targets of FMO-2, which also accumulates in mammals under conditions that promote longevity, may elucidate further mechanisms that promote healthy aging.

Science, this issue p. 1375


Stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) increases life span and health span in nematodes through an unknown mechanism. We report that neuronal stabilization of HIF-1 mediates these effects in Caenorhabditis elegans through a cell nonautonomous signal to the intestine, which results in activation of the xenobiotic detoxification enzyme flavin-containing monooxygenase-2 (FMO-2). This prolongevity signal requires the serotonin biosynthetic enzyme TPH-1 in neurons and the serotonin receptor SER-7 in the intestine. Intestinal FMO-2 is also activated by dietary restriction (DR) and is necessary for DR-mediated life-span extension, which suggests that this enzyme represents a point of convergence for two distinct longevity pathways. FMOs are conserved in eukaryotes and induced by multiple life span–extending interventions in mice, which suggests that these enzymes may play a critical role in promoting health and longevity across phyla.

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