Ageing – The role of nutrient sensing?

January 17, 2023

Aging is a complex process that is influenced by a variety of factors. Genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors are some important factors. One area gaining attention in the field of aging is the role of nutrient sensing in regulating aging. In particular, the deregulation of nutrient sensing pathways. Deregulation has been linked to the acceleration of aging and age-related diseases.
Nutrient sensing refers to the process by which cells detect and respond to changes in the availability of nutrients. This process is regulated by a complex network of signaling pathways. These pathways help to coordinate cell growth, metabolism, and survival. One of the key players in nutrient sensing is the target of rapamycin pathway or TOR. This pathway is activated when nutrients are available and signals cells to grow and divide.
When nutrient sensing pathways are deregulated, cells may continue to grow and divide. You do not even need nutrients anymore. This can lead to the development of cancer and other age-related diseases. Deregulation of nutrient sensing pathways leads to the accumulation of cellular damage. Cellular damage contribute to the aging process.
One way in which nutrient sensing pathways can become deregulated is through the overactivation of the TOR pathway. Exposure to certain environmental factors, such as high levels of insulin or glucose is one primary cause. Overeating or a sedentary lifestyle, also contribute to an overactive TOR pathway.
When other connected pathways are deregulated they affect the ability for your body to sense nutrients. For example, the AMPK pathway is a key regulator of the TOR pathway. When it is not functioning well, your body cannot sense nutrients.
When your body cannot sense nutrients adequately, you experience it through a variety of age related diseases. Cancer, diabetes, and neurodegeneration, for example.
There are several ways to regulate nutrient sensing pathways to slow down ageing process. One approach is to use drugs that target the TOR pathway. Rapamycin, for example, is a drug that has been shown to extend lifespan in certain animals by inhibiting the TOR pathway. Another approach is to use diet and exercise to regulate nutrient sensing pathways. Caloric restriction, or fasting for example, has been shown to extend ageing in several species by reducing the activation of the TOR pathway.

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