Aging and survival: the genetics of life span extension by dietary restriction

Annu Rev Biochem. 2008;77:727-54. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.77.061206.171059.


Reducing food intake to induce undernutrition but not malnutrition extends the life spans of multiple species, ranging from single-celled organisms to mammals. This increase in longevity by dietary restriction (DR) is coupled to profound beneficial effects on age-related pathology. Historically, much of the work on DR has been undertaken using rodent models, and 70 years of research has revealed much about the physiological changes DR induces. However, little is known about the genetic pathways that regulate the DR response and whether or not they are conserved between species. Elucidating these pathways may facilitate the design of targeted pharmaceutical treatments for a range of age-related pathologies. Here, we discuss how recent work in nonmammalian model organisms has revealed new insight into the genetics of DR and how the discovery of DR-specific transcription factors will advance our understanding of this phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Diet
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Longevity
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • Transcription Factors