~ Methionine Restriction = Calorie Restriction?

The result of research reported in the June, 2006 issue of the FASEB journal revealed that restricting the diet of just one amino acid, in this case, methionine, provided some of the benefits of calorie restriction found among laboratory animals.

Research in rodents has demonstrated that restricting protein, or one of the amino acids that are the building blocks of protein such as tryptophan or methionine, is associated with an increase in longevity. Scientists at the University of Madrid and University of Lleida in Spain hypothesized that this extension of lifespan could be due to a reduction in mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and oxidative stress, a phenomenon that has been observed during calorie restriction, which is also known to increase lifespan.

In the current study, one group of rats was allowed to eat as much as they wanted of a diet that contained 0.86 percent L-methionine. A second group received the same amount of food each day that the first group consumed the previous day, except the amount of methionine was restricted to 0.17 percent, and L-glutamic acid was increased from 2.7 percent to 3.39 percent for six to seven weeks.

Mitochondria isolated from the heart and liver were examined at the end of the study. It was found that reactive oxygen species production, oxidative damage to DNA, and protein oxidation were all lower in the mitochondria of mice who received the methionine restricted diet compared to the unrestricted group. The changes observed were similar to those revealed in studies of calorie and protein restriction. "This suggests that the decrease in methionine ingestion can be the single molecular component responsible for the decrease in mitochondrial ROS generation and oxidative stress that occurs during calorie restriction, and thus for part of the decrease in aging rate elicited by this dietary manipulation," the authors conclude.

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