Researchers from the Buck Institute have demonstrated for the first time a link between diet, circadian rhythms, eye health and lifespan in Drosophila. Publishing in the June 7, 2022 issue of Nature Communications, they additionally and unexpectedly found that processes in the fly eye are actually driving the aging process.
Previous studies have shown in humans that there is an association between eye disorders and poor health. “Our study argues that it is more than correlation: dysfunction of the eye can actually drive problems in other tissues,” said senior author and Buck Institute Professor Pankaj Kapahi, PhD, whose lab has demonstrated for years that fasting and caloric restriction can improve many functions of the body. “We are now showing that not only does fasting improve eyesight, but the eye actually plays a role in influencing lifespan.”
The explanation for this connection lies in circadian “clocks,” the molecular machinery within every cell of every organism, which have evolved to adapt to daily stresses, such as changes in light and temperature caused by the rising and setting of the sun. These 24-hour oscillations - circadian rhythms - affect complex animal behaviors, such as predator-prey interactions and sleep/wake cycles, down to fine-tuning the temporal regulation of molecular functions of gene transcription and protein translation.