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Age- and calorie-independent life span extension from dietary restriction by bacterial deprivation in Caenorhabditis elegans

Erica D Smith12*, Tammi L Kaeberlein1, Brynn T Lydum1, Jennifer Sager1, K Linnea Welton2, Brian K Kennedy2 and Matt Kaeberlein1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

2 Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 USA

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BMC Developmental Biology 2008, 8:49  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-8-49

Published: 5 May 2008



Dietary restriction (DR) increases life span and delays age-associated disease in many organisms. The mechanism by which DR enhances longevity is not well understood.


Using bacterial food deprivation as a means of DR in C. elegans, we show that transient DR confers long-term benefits including stress resistance and increased longevity. Consistent with studies in the fruit fly and in mice, we demonstrate that DR also enhances survival when initiated late in life. DR by bacterial food deprivation significantly increases life span in worms when initiated as late as 24 days of adulthood, an age at which greater than 50% of the cohort have died. These survival benefits are, at least partially, independent of food consumption, as control fed animals are no longer consuming bacterial food at this advanced age. Animals separated from the bacterial lawn by a barrier of solid agar have a life span intermediate between control fed and food restricted animals. Thus, we find that life span extension from bacterial deprivation can be partially suppressed by a diffusible component of the bacterial food source, suggesting a calorie-independent mechanism for life span extension by dietary restriction.


Based on these findings, we propose that dietary restriction by bacterial deprivation increases longevity in C. elegans by a combination of reduced food consumption and decreased food sensing.