UAB logoWe have always probably linked glucose to being source of energy. Now here’s a new research that says may be we need to go easy on the amount of glucose we consume. If experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) are to be believed then calorie intake could be related to lifespan of a cell and probably even cancer development.

The researchers suggest that apparently restricting the consumption of glucose could augment the life of healthy human-lung cells. It also seems to have the ability to speed up the death of precancerous human-lung cells to consequently lower the spread and growth rate of cancer.

Intended to have wider implications in science related to age, the scientists aim at providing ways in which calorie-intake restriction can benefit longevity. Principal investigator Trygve Tollefsbol, Ph.D., D.O., a professor in the Department of Biology explains that it should also aid in preventing diseases like cancer that may be linked to aging.

“These results further verify the potential health benefits of controlling calorie intake.” Tollefsbol commented. “Our research indicates that calorie reduction extends the lifespan of healthy human cells and aids the body’s natural ability to kill off cancer-forming cells.”

Tests were carried out by growing both healthy human-lung cells and precancerous human-lung cells in lab flasks. The UAB team then delivered either normal levels of glucose or amounts of the sugar compound that appeared to have been significantly reduced. The cells were then allowed to grow for duration of weeks.

“In that time, we were able to track the cells’ ability to divide while also monitoring the number of surviving cells. The pattern that was revealed to us showed that restricted glucose levels led the healthy cells to grow longer than is typical and caused the precancerous cells to die off in large numbers,” Tollefsbol mentioned.

The researchers claim to have specifically discovered that two key genes were affected in the response of cells to lowered glucose consumption. The first gene appeared to have been telomerase that is known to encode a key enzyme, permitting indefinite division of cells while the second gene was known to have bee p16 which encodes a well known anti-cancer protein.

“Opposite effects were found for these genes in healthy cells versus precancerous cells. The healthy cells saw their telomerase rise and p16 decrease, which would explain the boost in healthy cell growth,” Tollefsbol further added. “The gene reactions flipped in the precancerous cells with telomerase decreasing and the anti-cancer protein p16 increasing, which would explain why these cancer-forming cells died off in large numbers.”

Much unlike other researches of its kind, this new analysis is considered to be distinct as it supposedly used a unique approach of testing human cells as against laboratory animal cells. This allowed the researchers to better understand the association between calorie intake, aging and the apparent onset of diseases that may be related to aging.

“Our results not only support previous findings from the feeding of animals but also reveal that human longevity can be achieved at the cellular level through caloric restriction,” Tollefsbol shares. “The hope is that this UAB breakthrough will lead to further discoveries in different cell types and facilitate the development of novel approaches to extend the lifespan of humans.”

Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research funded this research.

The study entitled, ‘Glucose Restriction Can Extend Normal Cell Lifespan and Impair Precancerous Cell Growth Through Epigenetic Control of hTERT and p16 Expression’ finds its place in the online edition of The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB Journal)