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Healthy aging signs in telomeres found in new supplement study

Study of effect of ergothioneine on telomeres found signs of healthy aging.

An in vitro study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, has demonstrated that Blue California’s ErgoActive® ergothioneine can help to preserve telomere length and reduce the rate of telomere shortening under oxidative stress, thus contributing to healthy aging.

Longevity.Technology: The idea that supplements can deliver real healthy aging benefits is gaining real traction; from reducing frailty to improving cardiac health some supplements promise the moon, but what they actually deliver can vary. If ergothioneine can indeed combat oxidative stress-related damage and reduce telomere attrition, then it could be set for a rosy future, as these qualities would benefit both lifespan and healthspan. We’ll be keeping an eye on their proposed human trials.

Ergothioneine is a naturally occurring amino acid that has powerful antioxidant properties; it is synthesised only by some bacteria and fungi, so humans have to obtain it from dietary sources, including specific species of mushrooms, beans and oat bran. For most people, the dietary consumption of foods rich in ergothioneine tends to be low, but humans produce a highly-specific ergothioneine transporter (ETT).

Because ergothioneine eliminates many reactive oxygen species and humans have this specific ETT, Dr Bruce Ames, aging expert and professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley dubbed it a “Longevity vitamin [1].”

Ergothioneine is taken to treat joint pain, liver damage, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and heart disease. Current research is also underway to investigate if ergothioneine can reduce inflammation in the lungs and damage in the liver, kidneys and brain.

Early in February 2020, Blue California filed a patent application reporting the discovery of ErgoActive ergothioneine’s impact on telomere shortening associated with oxidative stress. Now, the in vitro study is the first time ergothioneine has been studied for its effect on telomere length. The ergothioneine used was provided by Blue California who produce ErgoActive ergothioneine by a proprietary fermentation process.

“Our results suggest that ergothioneine as part of a healthy diet could potentially mitigate the negative effects of oxidative stress and support healthy aging by helping to preserve telomere length and reduce the rate of shortening,” said Chief Science Officer, Dr Priscilla Samuel [2].

Telomere aging process.

Telomeres are complex protein structures located at the end of each DNA strand, protecting chromosomes from becoming damaged. When DNA strands are frayed or worn down, cells are challenged with performing specialised functions, thus making the protection offered by telomeres critical for the life of cells.

Shortened telomeres impact on lifespan and are associated with many chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. “Many areas of health are impacted by oxidative stress during aging, including longevity, bone health, cardiovascular health, cognition and skin vitality,” said Samuel. “As oxidative stress accelerates the shortening of telomeres, antioxidants such as ergothioneine may help to decelerate it.”

In the in vitro study, human neonatal dermal fibroblast cells were used to observe the effect of ergothioneine on telomerase activity and telomeres under standard and oxidative stress conditions over an 8-week period.

Under oxidative conditions, at week 8 across all four tested concentrations (0.04 to 1.0 mg/ml) of ergothioneine, median telomere length was significantly longer than control and a significantly reduced percent of short telomeres was also observed, demonstrating a protective effect of ergothioneine [3].

“Blue California actively invests in clinical studies to advance the science and impact of our ErgoActive ergothioneine on overall health and wellness and look forward to investigating these effects in human clinical studies as well,” said Samuel. “We are committed to furthering research for substantiating functional benefits and claims associated with ingredients for use in dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages, personal care products, cosmetics and pet nutrition [4].”

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/d42473-020-00227-4
[2] https://www.investornetwork.com/news/N-EDE9FD856DCC0994F91C6BDF22691A
[3] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19390211.2020.1854919
[4] http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/4909983

Images courtesy of ErgoActive®
Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.
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