The magazine Science publishes this week the results of a investigation which concludes that the lack of taurinenutrient produced by our body and present in various foods, promotes the aging of animals.
This study, led by columbia universityalso found that taurine supplements can slow down the aging process in worms, mice and monkeys, and even extend the healthy lifespan of middle-aged rodents by up to 12%. To know what is its effect in humans, randomized clinical studies will be necessary, clarify the authors.
In this regard, an introductory note by Science points out that the findings of the team from the American university, in which international experts on aging also collaborated, “demand new tests in humans to examine the effect of taurine on people’s healthy life expectancy and on the possible risks that would entail”.
for your partVijay Yadavdirector of the study and professor of Genetics and Development at Columbia, indicates that “in the last 25 years, scientists have tried to find factors that not only allow us to live longer, but also increase life expectancyi.e. how long we remain healthy in old age”.
We realized that if taurine regulates processes that decline with age, perhaps the levels of this molecule in the bloodstream could affect health and longevity.
The researcher had already discovered the role of taurine in bone formation during his previous work on osteoporosis. At the same time, other scientists found that levels of this nutrient were linked to immune function, obesity, and nervous system functions.
“We realized that if taurine regulates all these processes that decrease with age, perhaps the levels of this molecule in the bloodstream could affect general health and life expectancy”, says the scientist.
Decline of taurine with age
First, Yadav’s team analyzed taurine levels in the bloodstream of mice, monkeys and people and found that its concentration declines substantially with age. In humans, the amounts of taurine in 60-year-olds were only a third of those found in 5-year-olds.
“That’s when we started to ask ourselves if taurine deficiency is a driver of the aging process and we launched a great mouse experiment”, explains the researcher.
The authors started with about 250 female and male mice aged 14 months (about 45 years in human terms). Each day, half of them received a bolus of taurine (500 and 1,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily) or control solution.
At the end of the experiment, the team found that taurine increased average lifespan by 12% in females and 10% in males. For mice, that meant another three to four months, equivalent to about seven to eight human years, says a statement from Columbia.
Influence on health
To learn how taurine affects health, Yadav turned to other aging experts who have studied the effect of taurine supplementation on health and fitness. life expectancy of various species.
These experts measured various health parameters in mice and found that, at age 2 (60 in humans), animals supplemented with taurine for one year were healthier in almost every way than their untreated counterparts.
The researchers found that taurine suppressed age-related weight gain in female mice (including menopausal females), it increased energy expenditure, increased bone mass, improved muscle strength and endurance, reduced depressive and anxious behaviors, decreased insulin resistance, and favored a stronger-looking immune system .youth, among other benefits.
“We found not only that the animals lived longer, but also that they had better health,” says Yadav.
According to the results of the study, at the cellular level, taurine improved many functions that normally decline with age. the supplement decreased the number of ‘zombie cells’ (old cells that should die but persist and release harmful substances), increased survival after telomerase deficiency, increased number of stem cells present in some tissues (which can help tissues heal after injury), increased performance of mitochondria, reduced DNA damage and improved the ability of cells to perceive nutrients.
Additionally, similar health effects have been seen with taurine supplements in middle-aged rhesus macaques, to whom daily supplements of the nutrient were administered for six months. Taurine prevented weight gain, lowered fasting blood glucose and liver damage markers, increased bone density in the spine and lower extremities, and improved the health of your immune system.
Randomized human trials are needed
Researchers don’t yet know whether taurine supplements will improve health or increase longevity in humans, but two experiments conducted suggest they have potential.
In the first, Yadav and his team analyzed the relationship between taurine levels and some 50 health parameters in 12,000 European adults over 60 years of age. In general, people with higher levels of taurine were healthier, with fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, lower levels of obesity, hypertension and lower levels of inflammation. “It’s about associations, which do not establish causality“, says the leader of the work, “but the results are consistent with the possibility that taurine deficiency contributes to human aging”.
The second study tested whether levels of this substance would respond to an intervention known to improve health: exercise. The team measured taurine levels before and after a variety of male athletes and sedentary individuals completed strenuous cycling training and found a significant increase in taurine among all groups of athletes (sprinters, endurance runners and natural bodybuilders) and sedentary individuals.
“Regardless of the individual, all increased taurine levels after exercise, suggesting that some of the health benefits of this activity may come from increased taurine,” Yadav said.
Measure health parameters
The expert adds that only a randomized clinical trial on people will determine whether taurine really has benefits for human health. Trials of taurine for obesity are ongoing, but none have yet been designed to measure a wide range of health parameters.
Other potential anti-aging drugs — such as metformin, rapamycin, and NAD analogues — are being studied for testing in clinical trials.
The abundance of taurine declines with age, so restoring it to a youthful level in old age could be a promising anti-aging strategy.
“I think taurine should also be considered,” says Yadav. “And it has some advantages, because it occurs naturally in our bodies, it can be obtained in the diet, it has no known toxic effects – although it is rarely used at the concentrations used in this study – and it can be potentiated by exercise.”
He explains that “the abundance of taurine declines with age, so restoring it to a youthful level in old age could be a promising anti-aging strategy,” he concludes.
Parminder Singh et al. “Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging”. Science2023.