Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis identify a natural compound that slows typical signs of aging in mice.
The study, published in Cell Metabolism, shows that older mice drinking water supplemented with NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) resembled younger mice in measures of metabolism and energy production.
Human cells’ ability to produce energy declines with age, prompting scientists to suspect that the steady loss of efficiency in the body’s energy supply chain is a key driver of the aging process.
Now, scientists have shown that supplementing healthy mice with NMN—found in foods such as broccoli, avocado, cabbage, and cucumber—can compensate for this loss of energy production, reducing typical signs of aging such as gradual weight gain, loss of insulin sensitivity and declines in physical activity.
There are specific findings related to vision as well.
“We demonstrated that tear production was increased after long-term NMN supplementation,” said Rajendra S. Apte, a senior author.
“This may be relevant to dry eye syndrome, the prevalence of which increases significantly with aging. We also demonstrated some improvement in retinal function as measured by electrophysiology.”
The study is based on the premise that NAD (another naturally occurring compound) levels decrease in multiple tissues as mice (and humans) age.
But NAD was not effective when given directly to mice so the researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis moved one step earlier in the NAD supply chain to NMN.
Interestingly, younger mice did not benefit from NMN supplementation (likely due to the fact that the body naturally produces higher levels of NAD at younger ages), but as the mice aged, the supplementation significantly reduced signs of aging.
New source: Mills KF, et al. (2016). Long-Term Administration of Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Mitigates Age-Associated Physiological Decline in Mice. Cell Metabolism, published online. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2016.09.013.
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