The Project

Micronutrients in Life Expectancy and Ageing (MILEAGE) started on 1st May 2017 and will end on 30th April 2021.

MILEAGE is a project that has its roots in both nutrition and in cell biology. Its aim is to show how the processes of ageing can impact on zinc and copper homeostasis at a cellular level, from the gut mucosal cells to the pancreatic and liver cells, which are key homeostatic gatekeepers for controlling body metal absorption and excretion. The gut microbiota may also have an impact on metal bioavailability and, conversely, metal availability in the gut may have an impact on microbial biodiversity in ageing.

Gatekeeper cells involved in body absorption and excretion of zinc and copper express channels, transporters and chaperones that regulate metal transport and intracellular trafficking. We hypothesise that ageing will impact on the expression of these regulatory proteins or the efficiency with which they work. This may explain the observed diminution of body metal homeostatic control in older age. Chemical drugs targeted at these proteins may help to regulate their function and improve homeostatic control of these essential metals. Mathematical modelling of metal metabolism in ageing cells will help to integrate and rationalise the cellular data into a unified hypothesis of the ageing process in body metal homeostasis.