January 18 2017. An article published on January 17, 2017 in Nature Communications reports the conclusion of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) that calorie restriction among older rhesus monkeys results in longer life. The research, which attempted to resolve conflicting findings concerning the effect of calorie restriction on life span, is the first collaboration between the two competing research teams.
In 2009, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported less disease and longer survival in monkeys given calorie restricted diets compared with those whose eating was unrestricted. However, in 2012, the NIA conducted a similar study that failed to uncover a survival benefit. "These conflicting outcomes had cast a shadow of doubt on the translatability of the caloric-restriction paradigm as a means to understand aging and what creates age-related disease vulnerability," commented Rozalyn Anderson, who is one of the current report's authors.
Comparison of the studies, which included data from close to 200 monkeys, revealed that the animals had their diets restricted at different ages. (Eating less is more beneficial to adult and older primates than younger animals.) The Wisconsin group’s control monkeys that started their diets at an older age ate more than NIA control monkeys, and diet composition was different between the research facilities. It was additionally found that female monkeys were less vulnerable to adiposity’s adverse effects.
“The NIA and UW nonhuman primate ageing and calorie studies address a central concept of relevance to human ageing and human health: that the age-related increase in disease vulnerability in primates is malleable and that ageing itself presents a reasonable target for intervention,” the authors write. “Taken together these data confirm that health benefits of calorie restriction are conserved in monkeys and suggest that calorie restriction mechanisms are likely translatable to human health,” they conclude.