In what could be seen as an impactful finding in the realm of health science, a new research shows that restricting calories can make rhesus monkeys lead longer and healthier lives.
The study was actually a remarkable collaboration between two competing groups of researchers — one from the National Institute on Aging and the other from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This happened to be the first ever time when both teams joined forces to pursue one of the most controversial aspects of ageing-related research.
The collaboration included heavyweights like Ricki Colman, Senior Scientist at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center; Rozalyn Anderson, Associate Professor the at UW-Madison; Branch Rafael de Cabo, Senior Investigator and Chief of the Translational Gerontology, and Julie Mattison, head of Nonhuman Primate Core Facility and NIA Staff Scientist.
In 2009, the UW-Madison study team claimed that imposing certain restrictions on the diet of the primates cal lead to significant improvements in survival and decrease in cancer, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular diseases. However, contradicting their claim, the NIA study team reported in 2012 that there was no notable improvement in survival. Although, even they agreed that the possibility of a trend toward improved health could not be ruled out.
“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,” says Anderson, one of the researchers involved in the study.
Eventually both the teams agreed to collaborate in an effort to analyze a large amount of data collected over several years. The data that comprised details of nearly 200 monkeys helped them understand why the two studies showed unique results.
“While neither study reports longevity data, both studies have yielded survival data. For rhesus monkeys in captivity, the previously reported median survival was ∼26 years of age, 10% survival was ∼35 years of age and maximal survival was ∼40 years of age,” the report published by the collaboration reads.
“Data from both study locations suggest that the CR paradigm is effective in delaying the effects of aging in nonhuman primates but that the age of onset is an important factor in determining the extent to which beneficial effects of CR might be induced.”
The detailed report submitted by the collaboration can be found in the Jan 17, 2017, edition of the journal Natural Communications.