Calorie restriction (CR) extends lifespan in species ranging from yeast to mammals. There is evidence that CR also protects against aging-related diseases in non-human primates. This has led to an intense interest in the development of CR-mimetics to harness the beneficial effects of CR to treat aging-related diseases. One CR-mimetic that has received a great deal of attention is resveratrol. Resveratrol extends the lifespan of obese mice and protects against obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The specific mechanism of resveratrol action has been difficult to elucidate because resveratrol has a promiscuous target profile. A recent finding indicates that the metabolic effects of resveratrol may result from competitive inhibition of cAMP-degrading phosphodiesterases (PDEs), which increases cAMP levels. The cAMP-dependent pathways activate AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is essential for the metabolic effects of resveratrol. Inhibiting PDE4 with rolipram reproduces all of the metabolic benefits of resveratrol, including protection against diet-induced obesity and an increase in mitochondrial function, physical stamina and glucose tolerance in mice. This discovery suggests that PDE inhibitors may be useful for treating metabolic diseases associated with aging.
Keywords: AMP-activated protein kinase; Epac1; Sirt1; aging; cAMP; calorie-restriction; metabolic; phosphodiesterases; resveratrol.