Sequestration of ubiquitous dietary derived pigments enables mitochondrial light sensing

Zhang, Dan; Robinson, Kiera; Mihai, Doina M.; Washington, Ilyas

Animals alter their physiological states in response to their environment. We show that the introduction of a chlorophyll metabolite, a light-absorbing pigment widely consumed in human diets, to Caenorhabditis elegans results in animals whose fat mass can be modulated by exposure to light, despite the worm consuming the same amount of food. In the presence of the chlorophyll metabolite, exposing the worms to light increased adenosine triphosphate, reduced oxidative damage, and increased median life spans, without an effect on animal reproduction. Mice fed a dietary metabolite of chlorophyll and exposed to light, over several months, showed reductions in systemic inflammation as measured by plasma α-macroglobulin. We propose that dietary chlorophyll metabolites can enable mitochondria to use light as an environmental cue, by absorbing light and transferring the energy to mitochondrial coenzyme Q.


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September 15, 2017