Scientists may have just discovered the secret of anti-aging protein in the blood that significantly extends life to mice.
In new research, scientists explain that there is a circulating protein in mice that is critical to mice health. It is an enzyme called eNAMPT and plays a key role in cellular fuel production called NAD, which body needs to stay healthy.
However, eNAMPT levels decrease with age in mice and in humans. As a result, the body does not get enough NAD and eventually develop health problems such as: Weight gain, insulin resistance, and cognitive impairment.
Results published in the journal cell metabolism reveal that the application of proteins from older mice derived from young mice slows down these age-related health problems. Experiments have shown that taking this anti-aging protein increases the life span of these older mice by about 16 percent.
"We found a brand new way to healthy aging," said Dr. Shin-ichiro Imai, PhD, a professor of developmental biology at the Washington University Medical School at St. Louis. "It is important to note that we can take eNAMPT from the blood of young mice and apply it to older mice and find that older mice have a significant improvement in their health, including increased physical activity and a better sleep."
Previous studies attempted to transfer full blood from young mice to old mice. Instead of doing the same thing, Imai's team decided to increase the eNAMPT blood component and found it to improve insulin production, sleep quality, photoreceptor function in the eye, cognitive function in memory tests and bicycle running.
Mice receiving salt solution died 881 days ago, approximately 2.4 years. On the other hand, one of the mice received by eNAMPT is still alive after 1029 days or 2.8 years and is counted.
The group has also discovered new ways to increase NAD levels in body tissue, including the oral administration of NMN molecules to mice. This molecule produces eNAMPT and is tested in human clinical trials.
"We believe the body has so many redundant systems to maintain the appropriate NAD levels because it is so important," Imai said, adding that their findings suggest that NAD determines how animals – including people – behave – aging and how long they live. Researchers therefore believe that effective anti-aging measures may include maintaining NAD levels during aging.
Imai's research has shown that hypothalamus control is an important aging control center, which is largely controlled by eNAMPT, which is released from fatty tissue into the bloodstream. As the eNAMPT level decreases, so is the functioning and life expectancy of the hypothalamus.
"We have come up with surprising accuracy to predict how long mice will live on their eNAMPT circulation levels," Imai explained. "We still do not know if this association exists in humans, but it is desirable to continue to study eNAMPT levels to see if they can be used as potential biomarkers for aging."