This week on Lifespan News, Ryan O’Shea discusses glutathione, a supplement that has increased the longevity of mice by 24% in one experiment.
Scientists studying glutathione precursors have demonstrated some of the best life extension results ever achieved in mice – increasing their lifespan by 24% – and they already have studies showing positive effects in humans. We’ll tell you more in this episode of Lifespan News!
Glutathione is the most abundant intracellular antioxidant and the backbone of natural defenses against reactive oxygen species, which are byproducts of normal oxygen metabolism that accumulate in the body with age and interfere with chemical processes. Oxidative stress happens when the delicate balance between the production and degradation of reactive oxygen species is lost. This can be caused by various stressors, such as UV radiation, but also by aging.
Glutathione levels decline with age, so supplementing it could plausibly affect other processes of aging. In a study conducted by scientists from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, supplementation of glutathione had a drastic effect on the lifespan of wild-type mice.
This study used GlyNAC, a combination of two Glutathione precursors, glycine and N-acetylcysteine, or NAC). GlyNAC has already been an object of several studies. The same group that is behind this new paper has previously shown that continuous GlyNAC supplementation in humans alleviates mitochondrial dysfunction and improves mitophagy, nutrient sensing, and genome stability. It also reverses premature aging in people with HIV.
For this study, the researchers took the study back to mice because humans are so long-lived that it makes studying any intervention’s direct effect on lifespan extremely difficult.
The researchers ran two studies simultaneously, one dedicated solely to determining the effect of GlyNAC on lifespan and the second one on various other parameters. In the first study, 32 mice were equally divided between the study group and the control group. At the age of 65 weeks, which is mid-life by mouse standards, 8 males and 8 females started receiving GlyNAC with food. Supplementation continued until the mice died of age-related diseases.
Mice on GlyNAC lived, on average, 24% longer than the controls: 129 vs. 104 weeks. This rivals some of the best life extension results ever achieved in mice.
The second study analyzed the effect of GlyNAC supplementation on Glutathione levels, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, mitophagy, nutrient sensing, and genomic damage in the hearts, livers, and kidneys of old mice.
Glutathione concentration in the old animals was 65% to 72% lower, but GlyNAC supplementation was able to bring the levels back to normal. Glutathione synthesis, substantially slowed by age, also bounced back as a result of GlyNAC supplementation.
Levels of an oxidative stress marker were around twice as high in old untreated mice than young mice. Here again, GlyNAC did wonders, bringing it back to almost youthful levels.
In all the other key areas, mitochondrial function, mitophagy, nutrient sensing, and genomic stability, the results were equally impressive: the markers bounced back almost to the levels observed in young mice.
This study might put glutathione, which is already marketed as a supplement, on the list of the most promising life-extending molecules. However, more research is needed to confirm its efficacy in humans. We are not saying that you should start using this, and the standard warnings of results may vary, consult your doctor, etc., certainly apply. The results of this study probably warrant the inclusion of glutathione in the Interventions Testing Program, or ITP, which tests various potentially life-prolonging compounds in mice in three different institutions, providing an especially robust testing environment.
As more results come in, we’ll have them for you here, so please subscribe so you don’t miss out. We’ll see you next time on Lifespan News!