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Science and Health Breakthroughs

Updated on April 19, 2008

Study of Enzyme in Mammals Could Ultimately Reverse Obesity and Slow Aging

In a recent study to determine if a certain chemical (the cytosolic form of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (GTP) (EC 4.1.1.32) (PEPCK-C)), effects longevity in mammals, a special mouse was created. These mice called the PEPCK-Cmus mouse were made by introducing a bit of DNA into the fertilized eggs that would allow the enzyme to later be created throughout their bodies naturally.

These mice gave some amazing results. The first thing to be noted is that the mice have roughly 100% MORE skeletal muscle than standard mice, and were far more active. It would usually be assumed that more active mice would need to eat more and thus live less long. The PEPCK-C mice ate 60% more than their normal counterparts, utilized fatty acids more effectively, produced less lactate, and stored substancially more triglycerides in their skeletal muscle, but only stored marginal amounts throughout the rest of their bodies, as compared with standard mice. PEPCK-C mice also had far lower concentrations of leptin and insulin.

The end result of these metabolic changes is reflected in the fact that the PEPCK-C mice had a life span more than twice that of standard mice (more than 2 years longer), as well as more than a doubled reproductive interval. The PEPCK-C mice were still able to reproduce healthily long after their normal counterparts were no longer even living.

Now studies will begin to further understand exactly how this enzyme is effecting the system of mammals. Not only is it possible that understanding this enzyme could reverse the trend of obesity in our society, but could ultimately mean that we could eat more, do more, and live longer healthier lives. Perhaps slowing aging so that at 100 years of age, you only looked and felt 50. The possibilities could be astounding.

-Isabelle Hakala

Reference: Biochimie. 2008 Apr 1 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 18394430

Born to run; the story of the PEPCK-C(mus) mouse.

Hanson RW, Hakimi P.

Department of Biochemistry, Case Western Reserve University School

of Medicine, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-4935, United

States.

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