Caloric restriction, metabolic rate, and entropy

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2004 Sep;59(9):B902-15. doi: 10.1093/gerona/59.9.b902.


Caloric restriction increases life span in many types of animals. This article proposes a mechanism for this effect based on the hypothesis that metabolic stability, the capacity of an organism to maintain steady state values of redox couples, is a prime determinant of longevity. We integrate the stability-longevity hypothesis with a molecular model of metabolic activity (quantum metabolism), and an entropic theory of evolutionary change (directionality theory), to propose a proximate mechanism and an evolutionary rationale for aging. The mechanistic features of the new theory of aging are invoked to predict that caloric restriction extends life span by increasing metabolic stability. The evolutionary model is exploited to predict that the large increases in life span under caloric restriction observed in rats, a species with early sexual maturity, narrow reproductive span and large litter size, and hence low entropy, will not hold for primates. We affirm that in the case of humans, a species with late sexual maturity, broad reproductive span and small litter size, and hence high entropy, the response of life span to caloric restriction will be negligible.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Entropy*
  • Humans
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Quantum Theory
  • Rats