Friday, 27 May 2016

More On Telomeres and Antiaging

Previously, I have written about gene therapy experiments and natural substances that have been shown to fight telomere shortening. Telomeres are protective caps on the ends of chromosomes which protect the DNA from damage or rearrangement; no telomeres means no cell division, and thus more biological aging. Two more telomere-protecting substances, to add to the previous list, are epithalamin and the carotenoids.

Epithalamin is a naturally occurring peptide, produced by the pineal gland in the brain. A peptide is a very short protein; the synthetic version of epithalamin, known as Epitalon, is made up of only four amino acids: alanine, glutamine, aspartate and glycine. Epithalamin aids in the hormone and blood-regulating roles of the pituitary gland, and may also be an antioxidant and adaptogen (a substance which increases resistance to stress). The synthetic version, Epitalon, was first studied in the 1980s by Russian professor Vladmir Khavinson. In his subsequent research, he found that cells treated with Epitalon were able to divide for a total of 44 times before their telomeres became too short, ten more divisions than the control cells. Other effects of Epitalon that Prof. Khavinson and his team have found are: normalisation of the hormones LH, FSH and prolactin; neuroendocrine regulation; normalisation of T cell (a class of immune cell) function and regulation of cholesterol and uric acid levels. Epitalon can be administered orally, nasally or by injection.

Some flowers also contain carotenoids. Source: Rjcastillo

Sources: Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine; 2003, PMID 12937682; and 2002, PMID 12577695
Modulating Aging and Longevity, SI Rattan

Carotenoids are a much more affordable and accessible group of substances, found in a wide range of fruit and vegetables, that may fight telomere shortening. One of these, beta-carotene, can be converted to vitamin A. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) demonstrated that doubling blood levels of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin was associated with 2% longer telomeres, possibly good for at least one extra cell division. Alpha-carotene was associated with a 1.76% increased telomere length, beta-cryptoxanthin with a 2.02% increased telomere length, and beta-carotene with a 2.22% increased telomere length. From the lowest to highest levels of these carotenoids, telomere length increased by 5-8%. Of course, not everyone even consumes foods high in carotenoids, which leaves much room for benefit. This is only an association, so more research is likely needed to determine a direct causation (though it is most reflective of the real world), and how carotenoids may work synergistically to provide a greater benefit. Should we be eating carotenoid-rich foods every day for their health benefits? Yes! Sweet potato chips (fries) taste much better than white potatoes!

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