The accumulation of progressive cell damage plays a key role in the aging process, but the question of what the true causes of aging are and what is “collateral damage” remains unanswered without much relevance, the Spanish National Cancer Research Center, or CNIO, said.
Some damage is caused by free radicals – extremely unstable molecules that, to stabilize, harm nearby cells via oxidation.
“We observed that free radicals are not harmful by themselves but that their effect is negative when they run out of control,” study co-author Pablo J. Fernandez-Marcos told EFE.
“The key is to manage them well since a low and controlled level (of free radicals) is necessary, and that is not achieved by the consumption of antioxidant substances that eliminate free radicals indiscriminately,” the scientist said.
The research study opens a new path to achieve desired results.
Scientists from CNIO, the University of Valencia and IMDEA Food focused on increasing the global activity of all cellular antioxidant enzymes by raising levels of NADPH, a key molecule in antioxidant reactions.
Researchers grew genetically modified mice with an increased expression of G6PD, one of the most important enzymes in the production of NADPH.
“The path we increased generates more NADPH, which activates almost all enzymes involved in the proper management of free radicals,” Fernandez-Marcos said.
The result was that mice that aged slower, metabolized sugar better and showed better coordination of movement as they grew older.
Genetically modified females lived 14 percent more than non-GMO females, while insignificant effects on males’ longevity were observed.
“This increased longevity, although modest, is striking taking into account that until now attempts to increase longevity by manipulating individual antioxidant enzymes had failed,” Fernandez-Marcos said. EFEfuturo