Cynthia Kenyon

Cynthia Kenyon, Biophysics and Biochemistry, UCSF 


In 1992, Cynthia Kenyon identified the daf-2 pathway, which is similar in function to the insulin/IGF-I( Insulin-like growth Factor 1) pathway in humans, as an aging regulator in Caenorhabditis elegans.  Changes in the daf-2 gene resulted in doubling the lifespan of the nematodes:


A C. elegans mutant that lives twice as long as wild type

Kenyon C

Nature. 1993 Dec 2;366(6454):461-4.

We have found that mutations in the gene daf-2 can cause fertile, active, adult Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodites to live more than twice as long as wild type. This lifespan extension, the largest yet reported in any organism, requires the activity of a second gene, daf-16. Both genes also regulate formation of the dauer larva, a developmentally arrested larval form that is induced by crowding and starvation and is very long-lived. Our findings raise the possibility that the longevity of the dauer is not simply a consequence of its arrested growth, but instead results from a regulated lifespan extension mechanism that can be uncoupled from other aspects of dauer formation. daf-2 and daf-16 provide entry points into understanding how lifespan can be extended.

PMID: 8247153

Subsequent studies have confirmed the importance of the insulin/IGF-I pathway for regulating aging in a wide spectrum of species, including humans. Downregulation of  the insulin/IGF-I pathway is a central effect of calorie restriction , as seen in many studies, so it is no surprise that CR Way foods and lifestyle recommendations are intended to help downregulate these two growth-driving hormones.

Cynthia Kenyon’s work has a profound influence on The CR Way. Here is delicious example: a warm breakfast cereal served recently at The CR Way Longevity Center. We admiringly call it “Homage to Cynthia Kenyon,” because it raises neither Insulin nor IGF-I a lot. To view the recipe see: Homage to Cynthia Kenyon, located in Delicious Foods.  

To create The CR Way and The CR Way to Happy Dieting, we tested the food recommendations and recipes to no excessively stimulate the Insulin/IGF-I pathway, while also keeping glucose levels low. CR Way resources list hundreds of foods and many recipes and meal plans that accomplish that.
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