Dietary Sucrose Determines Activity of Lithium on Gene Expression and Lifespan in Drosophila Melanogaster


“[...] we found that, in female D. melanogaster, the life-prolonging effect of dietary lithium is dependent on the actual sucrose content of the medium.”

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BUFFALO, NY- June 19, 2024 – A new research paper was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as "Aging (Albany NY)" and "Aging-US" by Web of Science) Volume 16, Issue 11, entitled, “Dietary sucrose determines the regulatory activity of lithium on gene expression and lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster.”

The amount of dietary sugars and the administration of lithium both impact the lifespan of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. It is noteworthy that lithium is attributed with insulin-like activity as it stimulates protein kinase B/Akt and suppresses the activity of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3). However, its interaction with dietary sugar has largely remained unexplored. 

In this new study, researchers Katharina Jans, Kai Lüersen, Jakob von Frieling, Thomas Roeder, and Gerald Rimbach from the University of Kiel investigated the effects of lithium supplementation on known lithium-sensitive parameters in fruit flies, such as lifespan, body composition, GSK-3 phosphorylation, and the transcriptome, while varying the dietary sugar concentration. 

“Based on this proposed overlapping bioactivity of dietary sugar and lithium in the female fruit fly, we decided to investigate the extent of these similarities and whether a joint mechanism lies at their root.”

For all these parameters, the researchers observed that the efficacy of lithium was significantly influenced by the sucrose content in the diet. Overall, they found that lithium was most effective in enhancing longevity and altering body composition when added to a low-sucrose diet. Whole-body RNA sequencing revealed a remarkably similar transcriptional response when either increasing dietary sucrose from 1% to 10% or adding 1 mM LiCl to a 1% sucrose diet, characterized by a substantial overlap of nearly 500 differentially expressed genes. 

“Hence, dietary sugar supply is suggested as a key factor in understanding lithium bioactivity, which could hold relevance for its therapeutic applications.”

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Corresponding Author: Katharina Jans

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Keywords: lithium, longevity, glycogen synthase kinase 3, fruit fly, trace element

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Cancer and aging are two sides of age-related tumorigenesis.

The mission of the journal is to understand the mechanisms surrounding aging and age-related diseases, including cancer as the main cause of death in the modern aged population.

The journal aims to promote 1) treatment of age-related diseases by slowing down aging, 2) validation of anti-aging drugs by treating age-related diseases, and 3) prevention of cancer by inhibiting aging. (Cancer and COVID-19 are age-related diseases.)

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