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Fly Brain, Mouthpart Expose Effects of Low-Cal Diet

by Nancy Needhima on July 17, 2012 at 3:32 PM
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Fly Brain, Mouthpart Expose Effects of Low-Cal Diet

New method to measure minute, rapid-fire secretions in the brains and mouthparts of fruit flies (drosophila) is offering insights into the useful effects of eating less, information that finally could help people ailing from neuromuscular disorders.

Using the method, researchers uncovered never-before-seen brain chemistry that helps explain why fruit flies genetically manipulated to mimic conditions such as Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis are more vigorous and live longer when fed a restricted diet.

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Published in June by Aging Cell, the research was conducted by a team from the School of Medicine and the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

Why eating less may be therapeutic

Senior author Benjamin Eaton, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology, says the results demonstrate how limiting calories may be therapeutic for people with various syndromes.
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Lead author Joel Rawson, Ph.D., and the Eaton team developed a novel system to analyze the impact of diet on life span and motor behavior as well as on neurotransmission, which is believed to underlie most neurological disorders in humans.

Flies on the low-calorie diet showed a 100 percent increase in the release of brain chemicals, which are called neurotransmitters, from their neurons. These chemicals carry signals from one nerve cell to another across gaps called synapses. The brain has millions of synapses that are believed to be the critical structures required for normal brain function. Diseases such as Parkinson's harm them irreparably.

Firing up the muscle activity

Source: Eurekalert
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