Scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, found that mice which had been made to fast had higher levels in their livers of a protein called SIRT1.
Part of molecular cascade
SIRT1 is part of a molecular cascade that switches on genes that produce glucose.
It has been implicated in ageing, through a cell-damaging process called oxidative stress, and in potentially fatal disorders involving glucose metabolism, such as diabetes.
Previous research has linked the equivalent gene for SIRT1 in yeast and nematode worms - two standard species used in laboratories - with a longer lifespan.
A long way to go
This is the first time the proximity has been made among mammals, which are far more complex organisms. However, a long way has to go before establishing any link between fasting and longevity among humans.
The study appears on Thursday in the British weekly science journal Nature. – (AFP)