Scientists at the Buck Institute for Aging Research in California have demonstrated for the first time the relationship between diet, circadian rhythms, eye health and longevity in fruit flies. Thus, eye health, which can be supported by healthy sleep, can contribute to longevity. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Communications.
In 2016, the authors published the results of a cellular metabolism study showing that fruit flies on a restricted diet experienced significant changes in their circadian rhythms in addition to increased lifespan. In the new work, many genes were identified that simultaneously responded to diet, as well as showing ups and downs in activity at different points in time.
The rhythmic genes that are most activated during food restriction appear to be at work in the cells of the eye, specifically in photoreceptors, specialized neurons in the retina that respond to light. A number of experiments have shown that keeping flies in constant darkness increases the lifespan of insects. Research using bioinformatics methods has shown that genes with rhythmic activity that respond to dietary restrictions also affect life expectancy.
As the eyes are exposed to the outside world, the immune defenses in these organs are critically active, which can lead to inflammation, which in turn, if present for a long period of time, causes or exacerbates a number of common chronic diseases. Staring at computer and phone screens and being exposed to light pollution in the dead of night contributes to severe disruption of circadian rhythms, scientists say.