The ageing phenome: Caloric restriction and hormones promote neural cell survival, growth, and de-differentiation

Paola S. Timiras, Farzin Yaghmaie, Omar Saeed, Elaine Thung, Garrett Chinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The phenome represents the observable properties of an organism that have developed under the continued influences of both genome and environmental factors. Phenotypic properties are expressed through the functions of cells, organs and body systems that operate optimally, close to equilibrium. In complex organisms, maintenance of the equilibrium is achieved by the interplay of several regulatory mechanisms. In the elderly, dynamic instability may lead to progressive loss of normal function, failure of adaptation and increased pathology. Extensive research (reported elsewhere in this journal) has demonstrated that genetic manipulations of endocrine signaling in flies, worms and mice increase longevity. Another effective strategy for prolonging the lifespan is caloric restriction: in data presented here, the persistence of estrogen-sensitive cells in the hypothalamus of caloric restricted 22-month-old female mice, may explain the persistence of reproductive function at an age, when reproductive function has long ceased in ad libitum fed controls. Still another strategy utilizes the effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) to promote in vitro proliferation of neuroglia, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Their subsequent de-differentiation generates immature precursor cells potentially capable of differentiating into neuroblasts and neurons. These and other examples suggest that, in terms of functional outcomes, "the genome proposes but the phenome disposes".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • De-differentiation of neuroglia
  • Estrogen-sensitive hypothalamic neural cells
  • Longevity
  • Phenome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology


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