The starvation hormone can significantly extend the life span of mice,a new study has found.
“Restricting food intake has been shown to extend life span in several different kinds of animals. In our study,we found transgenic mice that produced more of the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) got the benefits of dieting without having to limit their food intake,” said senior author Dr Steven Kliewer,professor of molecular biology and pharmacology.
“Male mice that overproduced the hormone had about a 30 per cent increase in average life span and female mice had about a 40 per cent increase in average life span,” Kliewer said.
The study defined average life span as the point at which half the members of a given test group remained alive.
While none of the untreated mice lived longer than about 3 years,some of the female mice that overproduced FGF21 were still alive at nearly 4 years,the researchers report.
FGF21 seems to provide its health benefits by increasing insulin sensitivity and blocking the growth insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway.
When too abundant,growth hormone can contribute to insulin resistance,cancer,and other diseases,the researchers said.
Lead author Dr Yuan Zhang,an instructor of pharmacology,said the study was considered risky because all involved understood it would be at least two years ¿ an average mouse life span before there would be any evidence of whether elevated production of FGF21 would affect longevity.
Previous research has found that FGF21 can reduce weight in obese mice. The mice that overproduced FGF21 in this latest study were lean throughout their lives and remained lean even while eating slightly more than the wild-type mice,the researchers said.
The study was published in eLife,a new peer-reviewed,open access journal.