Aging process in the human body is greatly influenced by the action of free radicals (byproducts of our own metabolism), but can be slowed down without the need to consume special dietary supplements if the HGF protein production, naturally found in the liver, is increased.
This same protein helps to stop and reverse the destruction of the organ caused by cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease or the consumption of drugs against tuberculosis like Isoniazid or Rifampicin.
Mexican scientists form the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) discovered the antioxidant effects of the HGF protein and also proved in their laboratory its liver regenerating effects. These effects had been planted as hypothesis by other research groups across the world, but had never been successfully tested.
This findings set the base to build a new line of therapeutic attention to stop the premature aging of the human body caused by exposure to different toxins, like alcohol. The next challenge for the research group at UAM is to develop a method to make the liver increase or decrease the production of the HGF protein because it cannot be eaten or ingested as a common drug.
"What we discovered was not a new antioxidant, like vitamin C that can be found in orange juice or dietary supplements. What we discovered was the action of a liver produced protein that turns on, regulates and modulates the natural defense mechanisms of our body against free radicals", Luis Enrique Gómez Quiroz, head of the project, explained during the interview.
Mexican research started on 2006 and has counted with the collaboration of the Laboratory of Experimental Carcinogenesis form the National Cancer Institute of the United States.
HGF stands for Hepatocytes (type of cell that composes the main tissue of the liver) Growth Factor which was identified 35 years ago in Japan but its anti-aging effects were discovered in Mexico City.
This research group also proved, in mice with cirrhosis, that when HGF levels are low the disease advances at a rapid pace and that it stops when this protein is present at a higher concentration.
"HGF turns on routes to produce natural antioxidant compounds in our body, for example a small tripeptide (a molecule composed by three amino acids, which work as construction bricks in our body) called glutathione which works as a very important antioxidant and liver protector.
"We have seen in this laboratory that HGF notably increases the production of glutathione and other protector compounds, not just for the liver, but for all the organs in the body: lungs, kidneys, pancreas, etc. When this natural antioxidant is induced to increase its production, it protects the body from the toxic effects of many compounds like alcohols", said Gómez Quiroz.