Submitted to: Neurobiology of Aging
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/22/2002
Publication Date: 10/1/2002
Citation: CASADESUS, G., SHUKITT HALE, B., JOSEPH, J.A. PRACTICING CALORIC RESTRICTION OR EATING A DIET HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS: EQUIVALENT PATHS TO SUCCESSFUL AGING?. NEUROBIOLOGY OF AGING. 23(5):747-69,2002. Interpretive Summary: As the population continues to grow older, it becomes increasingly important to try to find methods to forestall or reverse the effects of aging. Failure to accomplish this will result in exponential increases in health care costs and an ever rising burden on the health care system. This is especially true in the case of neurodegeneration and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, where the long-term custodial care severely taxes the system. Therefore, numerous efforts are underway to determine the mechanisms involved in the deleterious effects of aging, along with attempts to mitigate these effects. It is clear from these studies that one overriding concern is the increasing vulnerability shown by the aging brain to oxidative stress. In fact, these studies indicate that the results of oxidative stress may be reflected as decrements in neuronal and cognitive function. Thus, in an effort to reduce the sensitivity to oxidative stress, studies directed toward reducing this vulnerability have centered around two rather divergent models a) caloric restriction, which has been shown in numerous studies to enhance organisms defenses against oxidative stress with subsequent increases in longevity and b) dietary intake of antioxidants. The purpose of this review is to compare and contrast these two models with a view toward examining the adaptability of each to the human condition.
Technical Abstract: With the increasing demands placed on our society to perform better for longer, in addition to the large increase in the old segment of our population, a race has begun to forestall or reverse the ubiquitous declines that emerge from growing old. Currently, little is known about the mechanisms responsible for the neuronal degeneration seen during both normal aging and neurodegenerative disease; however, among the prime candidates responsible for producing these effects are free radicals. It has been hypothesized that brain aging results from a progressive inability to cope with such insults as oxidative stress and inflammation. As a result, this inability provides a fertile environment for the subsequent development of neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, if the preservation of neuronal function and associated cognitive and motor performance during aging will enhance the probability of aging successfully, then it is of crucial importance to find ways to preserve or decrease the responsiveness of the brain to these insults. The purpose of this review is to discuss two strategies, caloric restriction and antioxidant supplementation (through foods and supplements), both proven to be successful at protecting the brain from age-related oxidative insults. The two interventions will be compared and contrasted in terms of their effectiveness, safety, and generalization capacity for human treatment.