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What is mTOR?

mTOR stands for the “mechanistic target of Rapamycin” which is a pathway found in the body that regulates cell growth and survival. Rapamycin is a compound that was first discovered on Easter Island and scientists have completed a lot of research trying to understand how it interacts in cells. They found that it has  anticancer and immunosuppressive effects and that it  can also lead to extended life spans in animals. The next step in research is to determine if it could affect human longevity.

Physiologic function and Metformin.

mTOR  functions as a part of two distinct complexes, mTOR Complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTOR Complex 2 (mTORC2), each with specific roles in cells. mTORC1 is well-known for its role in regulating protein synthesis by responding to nutrient availability, growth factors, and energy status of the cell. It controls various  processes, including lipid synthesis and programmed cell death.  There are a number of scientists, physicians and patients that are taking the diabetes medication Metformin because of the effects it has on the mTOR pathway.  By dampening mTORC1 signaling, Metformin can potentially slow down the processes associated with cell growth and proliferation, which are hallmarks of cancer. This has led to increased interest in using metformin as a potential  therapy in cancer treatment. Furthermore, the impact of metformin on mTORC1 also supports its role in extending lifespan and improving healthspan, as evidenced by its effects on models of aging.

The second pathway called mTORC2  plays a critical role in cell survival, metabolism, and proliferation through the activation of  enzymes called AGC kinases. The mTOR signaling is affected by a variety of signals, including cellular oxygen levels, energy status, and amino acid availability, making it a key integrator of cellular growth and metabolism. Further research is being done to see if any other medications or substances can affect the TORC1 and TORC2 pathways-stay tuned!


The aging process in humans and animal cells is complex and there are multiple factors that can affect the lifespan of individual cells. Diet, exercise, social interactions and now even possibly an inexpensive diabetes medication like Metformin can affect longevity!  

Here’s a depiction about how complex the mTOR pathway is: