NaturAge - Propriedades anti-envelhecimento de compostos naturais (PTDC/QUI-BIQ/101392/2008)
Epidemiological studies indicate an inverse relationship between the development of age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and the consumption of fruits and vegetables. These beneficial health effects have been attributed, at least in part, to certain compounds abundant in plant material such as polyphenols, because they are antioxidants. However, many human trials failed to show the beneficial effects of these compounds. In addition, due the their lower bioavailability after intestinal absorption, plant bioactive compounds are likely to act not through their potential as hydrogen-donating antioxidants but rather through the modulation of proteins, gene expression and cell signalling pathways. Therefore, the scientific basis for the strategy to improve health through diet is largely missing.
The project NaturAge intends to make a significant contribution to the understanding of the beneficial health effects of plant compounds using a different approach from the most common in the literature. Instead of focusing in specific disease models, NaturAge will address the basis of the development of different age-associated diseases, the process of biological aging. The hypothesis that will be tested is: “the beneficial effects of plant bioactive compounds on aging is attained by increasing cell capacity to self-defence and repair”, which has been increasingly recognized as a promising approach for aging intervention.
The project NaturAge expect to clarify the potential anti-aging effects of natural compounds by the induction of cell stress responses, helping, therefore, to explain the health beneficial effects of consumption of fruits and vegetables. In addition, the team involved in this project expect this work will be a good support for the promotion of basic research in aging in Portugal, in a time that the aged population grows exponentially. This project involves researchers from the Department of Biology, UM, with different expertises (from physiology to molecular biology skills) enthusiasts and interested in the aging research.