Connect with us

News

Could taurine be the elixir of life?

Published

on

Taurine – a nutrient produced in the body and found in many foods – could be an “elixir of life” that boosts health and helps us live longer, a leading scientist says.

A deficiency of taurine is a driver of ageing in animals. But experiments on middle-aged animals conducted as part of a study led by Columbia University researchers in the United States and published in the journal Science, have shown that boosting taurine levels can slow down the ageing process.

In one case, it was found to extend the healthy lifespan of middle-aged mice by up to 12%.

Whilst topping up taurine levels in humans has not yet been tested, the study’s lead, Vijay Yadav, assistant professor of genetics and development at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, said: “For the last 25 years, scientists have been trying to find factors that not only let us live longer, but also increase healthspan, the time we remain healthy in our old age.

“This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives.”

Human life expectancy has doubled in the last 200 years. Since the start of the 21st Century, life expectancy has risen by more than six years globally from 66.8 years to 73.4, according to the World Health Organisation.

CREDIT: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Over the last two decades, efforts to identify interventions that improve health in old age have intensified and scientists have learned that the ageing process can be manipulated.

Many studies have found that various molecules carried through the bloodstream are associated with ageing. Less certain is whether these molecules actively direct the ageing process or are just passengers going along for the ride.

If a molecule is a driver of ageing, then restoring its youthful levels would delay the process of growing old and increase the years we spend in good health.

Taurine – which is a free amino acid found naturally in foods with protein such as meat, dairy and fish, can be bought as a supplement, and is widely used in energy drinks – first came into Dr Yadav’s view during his previous research into osteoporosis that uncovered the nutrient’s role in building bone.

Around the same time, other researchers were finding that taurine levels correlated with immune and nervous system functions, and obesity.

Dr Yadav said: “We realised that if taurine is regulating all these processes that decline with age, maybe taurine levels in the bloodstream affect overall health and lifespan.”

First, Dr Yadav’s team looked at levels of taurine in the bloodstream of mice, monkeys, and people and found its abundance decreases substantially with age. In people, taurine levels in 60-year-old individuals were only about one-third of those found in five-year-olds.

“That’s when we started to ask if taurine deficiency is a driver of the ageing process, and we set up a large experiment with mice,” Dr Yadav explained.

The researchers started with close to 250 14-month-old female and male mice (about 45 years old in human terms).

Dr Vijay Yadav holding a model of the chemical structure of taurine. Image Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Every day, the researcher fed half of them a bolus of taurine or a control solution. At the end of the experiment, Dr Yadav and his team found that taurine increased average lifespan by 12% in female mice and 10% in males.

For the mice, that meant three to four extra months, equivalent to about seven or eight human years.

To learn how the nutrient impacted health, Dr Yadav brought in other researchers who investigated the effect of taurine supplementation on the health and lifespan in several species.

They measured various health parameters in mice and found that at age two (60 in human years), animals supplemented with taurine for one year were healthier in almost every way than their untreated counterparts.

Among the benefits identified, taurine suppressed age-associated weight gain in female mice (even in ‘menopausal’ rodents ), increased energy expenditure and bone mass, improved muscle endurance and strength, reduced depression-like and anxious behaviours, as well as insulin resistance, and promoted a younger-looking immune system.

Dr Yadav said: “Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they’re living healthier lives.”

At a cellular level, taurine also improved many functions that usually decline with age, such as DNA damage and the ability of tissue to heal following an injury.

Similar positive health effects were seen in middle-aged rhesus monkeys, which were given daily taurine supplements for six months.

Taurine prevented weight gain, reduced fasting blood glucose and markers of liver damage, increased bone density in the spine and legs, and improved the health of their immune systems.

The researchers do not know yet if taurine supplements will improve health or increase longevity in humans, but two experiments they conducted suggest it has potential.

In the first, Dr Yadav and his team looked at the relationship between taurine levels and approximately 50 health parameters in 12,000 European adults aged 60-plus.

Overall, people with higher taurine levels were healthier, with fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, lower rates of obesity, and reduced hypertension and inflammation.

“These are associations, which do not establish causation,” Dr Yadav admitted, “but the results are consistent with the possibility that taurine deficiency contributes to human ageing.”

The second study tested if taurine levels would respond to an intervention known to improve health: exercise.

The researchers measured taurine levels before and after a variety of male athletes and sedentary individuals finished a strenuous cycling workout. They found a significant increase in taurine among all groups of athletes (sprinters, endurance runners, and natural bodybuilders) and sedentary individuals.

Dr Yadav said: “No matter the individual, all had increased taurine levels after exercise, which suggests that some of the health benefits of exercise may come from an increase in taurine.”

Only a randomised clinical trial in people will determine if taurine truly has health benefits, Dr Yadav added.

Taurine trials are currently underway for obesity, but none are designed to measure a wide range of health parameters.

Other potential anti-ageing drugs – including metformin, rapamycin, and NAD analogs – are being considered for testing in clinical trials.

“I think taurine should also be considered,” Dr Yadav said. “And it has some advantages. Taurine is naturally produced in our bodies, it can be obtained naturally in the diet, it has no known toxic effects, although it’s rarely used in concentrations, and it can be boosted by exercise.

“Taurine abundance goes down with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-ageing strategy.”

 

News

Evening exercise benefits elderly hypertensives

Published

on

Evening exercise benefits elderly hypertensives

A study conducted at the University of São Paulo with 23 volunteers found that aerobic exercise performed in the evening benefits elderly hypertensives more than morning exercise.

Aerobic training is known to regulate blood pressure more effectively when practiced in the evening than in the morning.

Researchers who conducted a study of elderly patients at the University of São Paulo’s School of Physical Education and Sports (EEFE-USP) in Brazil concluded that evening exercise is better for blood pressure regulation thanks to improved cardiovascular control by the autonomic nervous system via a mechanism known as baroreflex sensitivity.

Leandro Campos de Brito, first author of the article, commented: “There are multiple mechanisms to regulate blood pressure, and although morning training was beneficial, only evening training improved short-term control of blood pressure by enhancing baroreflex sensitivity.

“This is important because baroreflex control has a positive effect on blood pressure regulation, and there aren’t any medications to modulate the mechanism.”

In the study, 23 elderly patients diagnosed and treated for hypertension were randomly allocated into two groups: morning training and evening training. Both groups trained for ten weeks on a stationary bicycle at moderate intensity, with three 45-minute sessions per week.

Key cardiovascular parameters were analysed, such as systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate after ten minutes’ rest. The data was collected before and at least three days after the volunteers completed the ten weeks of training.

The researchers also monitored mechanisms pertaining to the autonomic nervous system, which controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and other involuntary bodily functions, such as muscle sympathetic nerve activity, which regulates peripheral blood flow via contraction and relaxation of blood vessels in muscle tissue, and sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity, assessing control of blood pressure via alterations to muscle sympathetic nerve activity.

In the evening training group, all four parameters analysed were found to improve: systolic and diastolic blood pressure, sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity. In the morning training group, no improvements were detected in muscle sympathetic nerve activity, systolic blood pressure or sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity.

“Evening training was more effective in terms of improving cardiovascular autonomic regulation and lowering blood pressure. This can be partly explained as due to an improvement in baroreflex sensitivity and a reduction of muscle sympathetic nerve activity, which increased in the evening. For now, all we know is that baroreflex control is the decisive factor, from the cardiovascular standpoint at least, to make evening training more beneficial than morning training, since it induces the other benefits analysed. However, much remains to be done in this regard in order to obtain a better understanding of the mechanisms involved,” said Brito, who is currently a professor at Oregon Health & Science University’s Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences in the United States, and continues to investigate the topic via circadian rhythm studies.

Baroreflex sensitivity regulates each heartbeat interval and controls autonomic activity throughout the organism.

“It’s a mechanism that involves sensitive fibres and deformations in the walls of arteries in specific places, such as the aortic arch and carotid body. When blood pressure falls, this region warns the brain region that controls the autonomic nervous system, which in turn signals the heart to beat faster and tells the arteries to contract more strongly. If blood pressure rises, it warns the heart to beat more slowly and tells the arteries to contract less. In other words, it modulates arterial pressure beat by beat,” Brito explained.

In previous studies, the EEFE-USP research group showed that evening aerobic training reduced blood pressure more effectively than morning training in hypertensive men (read more at: agencia.fapesp.br/34194), and that the more effective response to evening training in terms of blood pressure control was accompanied by a greater reduction in systemic vascular resistance and systolic pressure variability (read more at: agencia.fapesp.br/37432).

“Replication of the results obtained in previous studies and in different groups of hypertensive patients, associated with the use of more precise techniques to evaluate the main outcomes, has strengthened our conclusion that aerobic exercise performed in the evening is more beneficial to the autonomic nervous system in patients with hypertension. This can be especially important for those with resistance to treatment with medication,” Brito said.

Continue Reading

News

Revolutionising cancer treatment: intracellular protein delivery using hybrid nanotubes

Published

on

Revolutionising cancer treatment: intracellular protein delivery using hybrid nanotubes

A new hybrid nanotube stamp system has been developed which revolutionises precision medicine with high efficiency and cell viability rates for cancer treatment.

Precision medicine and targeted therapies are gaining traction for their ability to tailor treatments to individual patients while minimising adverse effects. Conventional methods, such as gene transfer techniques, show promise in delivering therapeutic genes directly to cells to address various diseases.

However, these methods face significant drawbacks, hindering their efficacy and safety. Intracellular protein delivery offers a promising approach for developing safer, more targeted, and effective therapies. By directly transferring proteins into target cells, this method circumvents issues such as silencing during transcription and translation and the risk of undesirable mutations from DNA insertion. Additionally, intracellular protein delivery allows for precise distribution of therapeutic proteins within target cells without causing toxicity.

A group of researchers led by Professor Takeo Miyake at Waseda University, Japan in collaboration with the Mikawa Group at the RIKEN Institute have now developed a hybrid nanotube stamp system for intracellular delivery of proteins. This innovative technique enables the simultaneous delivery of diverse cargoes, including calcein dye, lactate oxidase (LOx) enzyme, and ubiquitin (UQ) protein, directly into adhesive cells for cancer treatment.

The researchers explored the therapeutic potential of delivering LOx enzyme for cancer treatment. “Through our innovative stamp system, we successfully delivered LOx into both healthy mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and cancerous HeLa cells. While MSC cells remained unaffected, we observed significant cell death in HeLa cancer cells following LOx treatment with viabilities decreasing over time. Our findings highlight the promising efficacy of intracellularly delivered LOx in selectively targeting and killing cancer cells, while sparing healthy cells, offering a targeted therapeutic strategy for cancer treatment,” explains Miyake.

Finally, the team successfully delivered 15N isotope-labeled UQ proteins into HeLa cells using the HyNT stamp system. This delivery allowed for the analysis of complex protein structures and interactions within the cells. In addition, optical and fluorescence imaging confirmed the presence of delivered UQ in HeLa cells, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy matched the intracellular UQ protein concentration with that of a solution containing 15N-labeled UQ. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of the stamp system in delivering target proteins for subsequent analysis.

The results demonstrate the remarkable capability of the HyNT stamp system in delivering LOx and UQ into a substantial number of adhesive cells, as required for regenerative medicine applications. The system achieved a notably high delivery efficiency of 89.9%, indicating its effectiveness in transporting therapeutic proteins into the target cells with precision. Moreover, the cell viability rate of 97.1% highlights the system’s ability to maintain the health and integrity of the treated cells throughout the delivery process.

The HyNT stamp system offers transformative potential in intracellular protein delivery, with applications spanning from cancer treatment to molecular analysis. Beyond medicine, its versatility extends to agriculture and food industries, promising advancements in crop production and food product development. With precise cell manipulation and efficient delivery, the HyNT stamp system is poised to revolutionize biomedical research, clinical practice, and diverse industries, paving the way for personalized interventions and shaping the future of modern medicine.

Continue Reading

News

Heat waves damage humans’ vital organs, shows new study

Published

on

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine have found evidence of the molecular causes of the damaging impact heat stress causes on the gut, liver and brain in the elderly.

The researchers suggest these findings point to the potential of developing precise prognostic and therapeutic interventions.

These organs have a complex and multidirectional communication system that touches everything from our gastrointestinal tract to the nervous system. Whether it is our brain affecting hunger or the liver influencing mental health, understanding the gut-liver-brain communication or “axis” is crucial to protecting human health.

Their study, which was conducted on mouse models, is published in the journal Scientific Reports, a Nature Portfolio journal. It is one of the first to fill the knowledge gap on the effects of heat stress on a molecular level of this crucial biological conversation.

“Inflammation in the brain and spine contributes to cognitive decline, compromises the ability to form new neurons and exacerbates age-related diseases,” said corresponding author, Saurabh Chatterjee, a professor of environmental & occupational health at the UC Irvine Program in Public Health. “By investigating the effects of heat stress on the gut-liver-brain crosstalk, we can better protect our increasingly vulnerable aging population.”

Using RNA analysis and bioinformatics to analyse elderly, heat-stressed mice, Chatterjee and his team found evidence of heat stress-affected genes in the brain and liver. A significant increase in the production of ORM2, a liver-produced protein, was observed in the heat-stressed mice. The control group of unstressed mice did not show a change, providing proof of organ dysfunction in the heat-stressed mice.

Researchers believe that increased secretion of ORM2 is a coping mechanism that may be due to gut inflammation and imbalance. In addition, ORM2 may impact the brain through a leaky blood-brain barrier, emphasizing intricate multi-organ crosstalk.

Additionally, the study shows the potential to use ORM2 for targeted biomarker interventions to prevent liver disease in heat exposure. This observation advances molecular insights into the pathophysiology of adverse heat events and will serve as a foundation for future research.

“Our findings have the potential to be used for the development of prognostic and therapeutic markers for precise interventions,” said Chatterjee. “In a dynamically changing global landscape, the imminent threat of climate change is evident in rising temperatures, raising concerns about intermittent heat waves. Our heating planet is undoubtedly leading to acute and chronic heat stress that harms the health of our aging population.”

Continue Reading

Trending