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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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December 12, 2010: by Bill Sardi
Since 2003 when a Harvard researcher extolled the SIRTUIN1 gene as the holy grail of anti-aging, this gene has only diminished in its stature. Out of a library of about 25,000 human genes, about 832 are believed to be involved in producing longevity as evidence in calorie-restricted animals whose lifespan is approximately doubled. Longevity involves many genes, not a sole gene target.
Resveratrol, the red wine molecule, which has been claimed to stimulate the SIRTUIN1 gene to produce proteins, has been shown to protect brain cells in models of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
But the effect of a limited calorie diet is not consistent upon SIRTUIN1 gene regulation. Calorie restriction up or down regulates SIRTUIN1 in different tissues and organs, so it cannot be used as a universal marker for anti-aging interventions such as diets or so-called anti-aging pills. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18550784 )
Still, online marketers of resveratrol pills continue to herald this red wine molecule as a SIRTUIN1 gene activator.
Recently researchers in Asia conducted a study where they did indeed find that resveratrol protects brain cells that produce dopamine, a chemical that transmits nerve signals. But resveratrol’s protection emanated from its antioxidant protection, not from its ability to stimulate the SIRTUIN1 gene.
Resveratrol abolished the destructive effect upon dopamine-making brain cells by a poison known as 1-methyl-4-phen- 64 ylpyridinium (MPP). Resveratrol counters the destruction of MPP, thus preventing cell death. However, resveratrol does this by activating a gene known as AMPK, not directly through SIRTUIN1.
But what investigators wanted to conclusively know is whether SIRTUIN1 gene activation directly protects brain cells that produce dopamine. They found the opposite. In the researchers own words: “the present study demonstrates that SIRTUIN1 inhibition protects dopamine-making cells from MPP+-induced cell death.”
The researchers go on to say that “the present findings are contrary to previous reports showing that SIRTUIN1 plays a protective role against neurodegeneration in conditions such as ALS, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.” An abstract of their study, published in the early online edition of FEBS Letters, Dec. 6, 2010, can be found here ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21130087 ). – Copyright 2010 Bill Sardi, ResveratrolNews.com Not for posting on other websites.