Artesunate as a Possible Calorie Restriction Mimetic

One of the detrimental consequences of the high cost of medical regulation is that researchers spend a lot of time looking for marginal new uses for the existing catalog of approved drugs rather than building better technologies. Thus most of the current crop of possible calorie restriction mimetic drugs, none of which you should be particularly excited about, are compounds known for years and used for other means, such as rapamycin. Here is news of another possible candidate mined from the present drug library, determined by testing in yeast cultures:

Calorie restriction (CR) promotes longevity among distinct organisms from yeast to mammals. Although CR-prolonged lifespan is believed to associate with enhanced respiratory activity, it is apparently controversial for accelerated energy consumption regardless of insufficient nutrient intake. In reconciling the contradiction of less food supply versus much metabolite dispense, we revealed a CR-based mode of dual-phase responses that encompass a phase of mitochondrial enhancement (ME) and a phase of post-mitochondrial enhancement (PME), which can be distinguished by the expression patterns and activity dynamics of mitochondrial signatures. ME is characterized by global antioxidative activation, and PME is denoted by systemic metabolic modulation.

CR-mediated aging-delaying effects are replicated by artesunate, a semi-synthetic derivative of the antimalarial artemisinin that can alkylate heme-containing proteins, suggesting artesunate-heme conjugation functionally resembles nitric oxide-heme interaction. A correlation of artesunate-heme conjugation with cytochrome c oxidase activation has been established from adduct formation and activity alteration. Exogenous hydrogen peroxide also mimics CR to trigger antioxidant responses, affect signaling cascades, and alter respiratory rhythms, implying hydrogen peroxide is engaged in lifespan extension. Conclusively, artesunate mimics CR-triggered nitric oxide and hydrogen peroxide to induce antioxidative networks for scavenging reactive oxygen species and mitigating oxidative stress, thereby directing metabolic conversion from anabolism to catabolism, maintaining essential metabolic functionality, and extending life expectancy in yeast.



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