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  • Longevity + Neoteny: Living Long, Looking And Acting Young

    July 18, 2017: by Bill Sardi

    This report is going to introduce a new word to your vocabulary, neoteny.  But before that, allow me a few paragraphs to properly introduce this intriguing subject.

    In the modern world where growing old age is now becoming optional and anti-aging pills are on the cusp of becoming reality, the question arises: who wants to live longer just to grow old?

    To repeat a story I have told before, when I show visitors to my office a picture of an old man blowing out 100 candles on his 100th birthday, before I can finish explaining what is shown in the photograph my visitors invariably say: “Oh, I never want to live that long!” There is an unspoken aversion to living longer just to grow older, feebler, incontinent and more forgetful.

    Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon didn’t search for a flowing spring of longevity but a fountain of youth.  In Greek mythology it was Eos who asked the god Zeus to make her lover Tithonus immortal.  But she forgot to ask for eternal youth.  As the story goes, as Tithonus grew older he begged for death to overcome him as he had no more strength at all and babbled endlessly.

    There is talk about superlongevity, but in reality it is often translated visually as sustained youthfulness.  See the cover of Time magazine of Feb. 22, 2010 that shows the cosmetic changes of aging.  What many people really want is lifelong youthfulness, thick hair, smooth skin and Viagra baby!

    Youth versus longevity

    An incredible story is developing in biology that provides compelling hope that not only can the ravages of aging can be slowed and even reversed but that a youthful appearance can be retained throughout most of life.

    As incredible as this may sound, the Gina Lollobrigida-forever pill is upon us.  (Oh, you can’t recall who Gina Lollobrigida is? Maybe you need an anti-aging pill.)

    Biologists are pointing to the naked (hairless) mole rat (NMR).  This is a rodent that lives 10 times longer than other rodents.  It’s not its genetic inheritance that results in the 30-year average lifespan for the naked mole rat compared to rats in the laboratory that live only ~3 years.  No, it’s what this subterranean mammal eats that produces a cancer free life.

    Neoteny: a new word for longevity seekers

    The naked mole rat is an example of neoteny (pronounced nēŏtˈnē)– prolonged youthfulness.  As biologists describe them in a report published in Physiology Reviews, “old naked mole rats do not become covered with wrinkles, participate in procreation throughout life, and their survivorship does not dramatically decrease with advancing age.  Here, here!

    Naked mole rats are said to live in a vivarium.  Bees and ants have queens that live longer than their subordinates, but in the case of naked mole rats, the entire cohort lives longer.

    The brain of naked mole rats is resistant to oxygen deprivation, thus maintaining youthful mental faculties.  Old naked mole rat brains have juvenile characteristics.

    The NMR has a longer maturation period than other rodents which helps to maintain elastic blood vessels, bone density and muscle mass.

    The fact that the numbers of mitochondria (energy producing compartments) in the cells of NMRs increases from 4.8% at age 6 months to 12.7% at age 5 years suggests extended youth, not progressive aging.

    The naked mole rat maintains an internal enzymatic antioxidant, superoxide dismutase (SOD) unlike other rodents.  But it is unlikely that internally produced antioxidants produce the delayed aging observed in this species.

    Naked mole rats are essentially free of cancer and this is attributed to abundant amounts of hyaluronic acid (HA) in the gooey connective tissue in between living cells.  HA is a water-holding gel-like molecule.

    The naked mole rat doesn’t inherently produce more hyaluronic acid than other species.  It consumes tubers rich in polyphenols that inhibit the enzyme that breaks down and degrades HA.  Polyphenols such as quercetin and resveratrol.

    As a subterranean species, naked mole rats require elastic skin to navigate underground tunnels.  Hyaluronic acid is a space filler, cushioning agent and is characterized as the key moisturizing molecule in wrinkle-free human skin.

    Despite physician claims that oral hyaluronic acid (HA) is not absorbed, orally consumed HA has been found in the skin of animals.  Oral HA also fills lips, thickens hair, even cushions the larynx (voice box) to facilitate a younger sounding voice instead of the raspy voice of old age.

    Averting long-living walking zombies

    But now we have one last dilemma.  We look young but think old.  We’re crotchety.  We repeat things over and over.  We can’t balance our checkbook, easily get conned by huckster telemarketers, get lost driving or walking, can’t place faces with names.  We may look young but if we become walking zombies, was it worth all the effort to achieve superlongevity?

    Here is where the naked mole rats (NMRs) once again provide a model for humans to maintain youthful mental activity.   Deterioration of brain function in NMRs is delayed till the very end of life.  The NMR brain disposes of more debris in the brain, a process called autophagy via “self eating,” than other animals. The NMR brain is resistant to damage caused by lack of oxygen (hypoxia).

    The primary feature of the NMR brain is that its brain cells retain the ability to produce intracellular energy in compartments called mitochondria.  Indeed, the ability of brain cells to produce cellular energy has established the primacy of the mitochondria in the maintenance of a youthful brain.

    In humans, only about 4% of mitochondria are functional by age 80.  How can the brain even function at that age?  Fortunately, there is a mitochondrial renewal process called biogenesis.  Broken parts of mitochondria are cut up (fission) and then conjoined (fusion) to renew mitochondria and boost cellular energy.

    Resveratrol has been demonstrated to stimulate mitochondrial fusion/fission and renew these power plants in living cells.  Quercetin is another natural molecule that exhibits ability to renew brain mitochondria.  In fact, a branded resveratrol pill (Longevinex®) that provides resveratrol + quercetin with other synergistic molecules, is the only commercially available source of resveratrol shown to renew mitochondria via the Sirtuin3 gene in a manner superior to plain resveratrol.

    Chart: Comparative Activation Of Sirtuin3 Gene

    The mirror is the tell-all barometer of aging for most people, not some blood test at the doctor’s office.  Humans work far harder and spend more money to look young (contact lenses, plastic surgery, wigs, hair dye, cosmetics) than on anti-aging pills.  It is not surprising to hear from people taking a polyphenol-based nutraceutical that includes hyaluronic acid (Longevinex® Advantage) that their friends tell them they look younger and think they underwent plastic surgery.

    Despite over a decade of marketing a resveratrol-based nutraceutical, the idea of such a miracle pill has yet to take off.  There are more searches for hemorrhoid remedies online than for resveratrol pills.

    What Longevinex users know that even their loved ones don’t

    Some Longevinex® users write emails to this writer to say they have devotedly been taking this pill for over a decade and have watched all their friends grow old while they now look younger than people who are ten years younger.  It’s difficult to tell others about this.  Such is the fate of anti-aging pills.  What Ponce de Leon would have paid thousands of gold doubloons for is passed over for a Starbuck’s vanilla-flavored latte.  #### ©2017 Bill Sardi,

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