New York: Reduced food intake without causing malnutrition is associated with protection against many diseases and researchers from Harvard University have now discovered the mechanism that links dietary restriction with health benefits.
Dietary restriction results in increased hydrogen sulfide (H2S) production and provides protection against ischemia reperfusion injury, damage to tissue that occurs following the interruption of blood flow as during organ transplantation and stroke, the findings showed.
Increased H2S production upon dietary restriction is also associated with lifespan extension in worms, flies and yeast.
"This finding suggests that H2S is one of the key molecules responsible for the benefits of dietary restriction in mammals and lower organisms as well," said senior author James Mitchell, associate professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard School of Public Health.
Dietary restriction is a type of intervention that can include reduced overall food intake, decreased consumption of particular macronutrients such as protein, or intermittent bouts of fasting.
"While more experiments are required to understand how H2S exerts its beneficial effects, it does give us a new perspective on which molecular players to target therapeutically in our efforts to combat human disease and aging," Mitchell said.
The researchers found that increased production of H2S occurred in mice upon reduction of dietary intake of the two sulphur-containing amino acids, methionine and cysteine.
The study appeared online in the journal Cell.