Low protein diet in early life increases lifespan in fruit flies
Scientists have recently used fruit flies to study how their lifespan is affected due to a low protein vs high protein diet in early life. It was found that the flies that were raised with low protein were found to live longer than those raised on high protein. Since fruit flies are model organisms, we can relate this to humans and find that low protein could yield the same results. Fruit flies are found to share more than two thirds of disease genes with humans. A mother’s diet can alter the risk of her offspring developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes later in life. The study also looked at skin lipids that are released that can shorten lifespan. These lipids were less toxic if the fly had a low protein diet at its early life. Skin lipids would generally help flies as they prevent dehydration and stimulate courtship behaviors. However, with added toxicity due to a high protein diet during development, they could end up shortening the lifespan of the flies. Scientists found that the lipids didn’t only affect themselves, but nearby flies. When many flies were placed together, their lifespan shortened due to the amount of toxic skin lipids. Many of the genes involved in making skin lipids are conserved from flies to humans.
Knowledge of these toxic skin lipids is alarming because they can react with sunlight and other stressors in the environment to produce harmful chemicals to accelerate the signs of aging in humans. This study shows another reason why too much sunlight can be harmful. It encourages me to wear more sunscreen and be wary of skin protection. This study is important as it warns us about the dangers of a high protein diet at an early age. Although flies are not exactly like humans, using model organisms for studies is a good way to get an idea about the subject. An article from science direct shows how Drosophila makes a good model organism.