Scientists have reported the discovery of a new gene that may explain why small exposure to oxidative conditions may offer protection from acute doses.
Oxidative stress has been linked to aging, cancer and many other conditions. Diagnostically, a high level of oxidized cysteine in the body is a marker of oxidative stress.
One major contributor to this phenomenon is hydrogen peroxide. Although cells minimize the damaging effects of the compound by converting it to oxygen and water, this conversion is not 100 percent successful.
Scientists at the University of California at San Diego used yeast to identify pathways involved in cells adaption to hydrogen peroxide, an effect where a toxic substance acts like a stimulant in small doses, but is an inhibitor in large doses.
They elicited adaptation by pre-treating cells with a mild dose of hydrogen peroxide, followed by a high dose and observed that the cells undergoing this adaptation exhibited a smaller mortality than cells exposed only to acute treatment.
Next, they systematically removed genes while repeating the experiment until they identified a novel factor called Mga2 is essential for adaptation.
The researchers speculate that the process they have described is the main factor responsible for the lifespan-expanding effects of a low-calorie diet.
In addition to a healthy diet, practitioners have also recommended exercise, quitting smoking and routine screenings for high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol as ways to prolong life.