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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Epigenetic regulation of caloric restriction in aging

Yuanyuan Li13*, Michael Daniel1 and Trygve O Tollefsbol12345

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1300 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

2 Center for Aging, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rdAvenue South Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

3 Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, 1802 6th Avenue South, AL 35294, USA

4 Nutrition & Obesity Research Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1675 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

5 Diabetes Comprehensive Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1825 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

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BMC Medicine 2011, 9:98  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-98

Published: 25 August 2011

Abstract

The molecular mechanisms of aging are the subject of much research and have facilitated potential interventions to delay aging and aging-related degenerative diseases in humans. The aging process is frequently affected by environmental factors, and caloric restriction is by far the most effective and established environmental manipulation for extending lifespan in various animal models. However, the precise mechanisms by which caloric restriction affects lifespan are still not clear. Epigenetic mechanisms have recently been recognized as major contributors to nutrition-related longevity and aging control. Two primary epigenetic codes, DNA methylation and histone modification, are believed to dynamically influence chromatin structure, resulting in expression changes of relevant genes. In this review, we assess the current advances in epigenetic regulation in response to caloric restriction and how this affects cellular senescence, aging and potential extension of a healthy lifespan in humans. Enhanced understanding of the important role of epigenetics in the control of the aging process through caloric restriction may lead to clinical advances in the prevention and therapy of human aging-associated diseases.

Keywords:
caloric restriction; epigenetic; aging