Disruption of circadian rhythms tied to aging
Studies have found that disrupting the body’s circadian rhythm can increase the risk of certain disease, such as obesity and diabetes, and now research at MIT has determined that the gene regulating our internal clock could also be tied to longevity.
The study shows that the gene SIRT1 plays a key role in controlling circadian rhythms. These rhythms decay as you age, but the research found that boosting SIRT1 levels in the brain could prevent this, which could potentially reduce the effects of aging.
Previous research concluded that a robust circadian period was associated with longer lives in mice, which led to speculation about the genes linked to these rhythms. For this study, the researchers split four groups of genetically engineered mice – one with normal SIRT1 levels, one with no SIRT1, one with twice the normal amount of the gene and one group with 10 times the normal amounts. Among the mice with extra SIRT1, there was a less significant decline in circadian control that accompanies aging.
The researchers hope that by delivering SIRT1 activators to the brain or by developing drugs to enhance circadian control systems, diseases associated with aging could be treated or prevented.