A vitamin that stops the aging process of organs

April 28, 2016, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is pretty amazing. It has already been shown in several studies to be effective in boosting metabolism. And now a team of researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology (LISP), headed by Johan Auwerx, has unveiled even more of its secrets. An article written by Hongbo Zhang, a PhD student on the team, was published today in Science and describes the positive effects of NR on the functioning of stem cells. These effects can only be described as restorative.

As , like all mammals, age, the of certain organs (such as the liver and kidneys) and muscles (including the heart) diminishes. Their ability to repair them following an injury is also affected. This leads to many of the disorders typical of aging.

Mitochondria: also useful in stem cells

Hongbo Zhang wanted to understand how the regeneration process deteriorated with age. To do so, he teamed up with colleagues from ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and universities in Canada and Brazil. Through the use of several markers, he was able to identify the molecular chain that regulates how mitochondria - the "powerhouse" of the cell - function and how they change with age. The role that mitochondria play in metabolism has already been amply demonstrated, "but we were able to show for the first time that their ability to function properly was important for ," said Auwerx.

Under normal conditions, these stem cells, reacting to signals sent by the body, regenerate damaged organs by producing new specific cells. At least in young bodies. "We demonstrated that fatigue in stem cells was one of the main causes of poor regeneration or even degeneration in certain tissues or organs," said Hongbo Zhang.

This is why the researchers wanted to "revitalize" stem cells in the muscles of elderly mice. And they did so by precisely targeting the molecules that help the mitochondria to function properly. "We gave nicotinamide riboside to 2-year-old mice, which is an advanced age for them," said the researcher. "This substance, which is close to vitamin B3, is a precursor of NAD+, a molecule that plays a key role in mitochondrial activity. And our results are extremely promising: muscular regeneration is much better in mice that received NR, and they lived longer than the mice that didn't get it."

A breakthrough for regenerative medicine

Parallel studies have revealed a comparable effect on stem cells of the brain and skin. "This work could have very important implications in the field of ," said Auwerx. "We are not talking about introducing foreign substances into the body but rather restoring the body's ability to repair itself with a product that can be taken with food." This work on the aging process also has potential for treating diseases that can affect - and be fatal - in young people, like muscular dystrophy (myopathy).

So far, no negative side effects have been observed following the use of NR, even at high doses. But caution remains the byword when it comes to this elixir of youth: it appears to boost the functioning of all cells, which could include pathological ones. Further in-depth studies are required.

This paper will be published online by the journal Science on Thursday, 28 April, 2016. It is titled: "NAD+ repletion improves mitochondrial and stem cell function and enhances lifespan in mice"

Explore further: Scientists speed up muscle repair—could fight dystrophy

More information: "NAD+ repletion improves mitochondrial and stem cell function and enhances lifespan in mice" Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf2693

Related Stories

Scientists speed up muscle repair—could fight dystrophy

October 5, 2016
Athletes, the elderly and those with degenerative muscle disease would all benefit from accelerated muscle repair. When skeletal muscles, those connected to the bone, are injured, muscle stem cells wake up from a dormant ...

Protein found to bolster growth of damaged muscle tissue

July 19, 2016
Johns Hopkins University biologists have found that a protein that plays a key role in the lives of stem cells can bolster the growth of damaged muscle tissue, a step that could potentially contribute to treatments for muscle ...

Why do aged muscles heal slowly?

July 5, 2016
As we age, the function and regenerative abilities of skeletal muscles deteriorate, which means it is difficult for the elderly to recover from injury or surgery. New work from Carnegie's Michelle Rozo, Liangji Li, and Chen-Ming ...

Gene controls regeneration of injured muscle by adult stem cells

July 21, 2016
A key gene enables the repair of injured muscle throughout life. This is the finding of a study in mice led by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and the University of Colorado at Boulder, and published online July ...

Researchers isolate human muscle stem cells

September 23, 2015
UC San Francisco researchers have successfully isolated human muscle stem cells and shown that the cells could robustly replicate and repair damaged muscles when grafted onto an injured site. The laboratory finding paves ...

Even at a molecular level, taking it slow helps us cope with stress

March 19, 2015
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have identified a new molecular pathway critical to aging, and confirmed that the process can be manipulated to help make old blood like new again.

Recommended for you

Lab-on-a-chip delivers critical immunity data for vulnerable populations

April 25, 2018
For millions of displaced people around the world—many of them refugees, living in temporary shelters under crowded conditions—an outbreak of disease is devastating. Each year, the measles virus kills more than 134,000 ...

Want new medicines? You need fundamental research

April 25, 2018
Would we be wise to prioritize "shovel-ready" science over curiosity-driven, fundamental research programs? Would that set the stage for the discovery of more new medicines over the long term?

Implantable islet cells come with their own oxygen supply

April 25, 2018
Since the 1960s, researchers have been interested in the possibility of treating type 1 diabetes by transplanting islet cells—the pancreatic cells that are responsible for producing insulin when blood glucose concentration ...

'Incompatible' donor stem cells cure adult sickle cell patients

April 25, 2018
Doctors at the University of Illinois Hospital have cured seven adult patients of sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder primarily affecting the black community, using stem cells from donors previously thought to ...

Research explains link between exercise and appetite loss

April 24, 2018
Ever wonder why intense exercise temporarily curbs your appetite? In research described in today's issue of PLOS Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers reveal that the answer is all in your head—more specifically, ...

Mammary stem cells challenge costly bovine disease

April 24, 2018
Mastitis is the most expensive disease in the dairy industry. Each clinical case can cost a dairy farmer more than $400 and damages both the cow's future output as well as her comfort.

7 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Telekinetic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2016
There's a product called "Niagen" already available over-the-counter. It's a patented formulation of Nicotinamide Riboside, in case you want to look like a much younger mouse.
philstacy9
not rated yet Apr 28, 2016
david_king
3 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2016
Skip the pills and just buy the stock. Who wants to live to 150 but run out of money at 75?
They should focus on a supplement that makes voters a little smarter.
NIPSZX
1.5 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2016
Nicotinic Acid is better on the liver and produces more NAD+ than (NR) plus you can overdose on NR in large amounts. Nice touch with the "further in-depth studies required." I actually tried NR and I had nightmares but I was stressed out due to witnessing a fight so I couldn't peg the nightmares directly to the NR. I have yet to try Nicotinic Acid.
SusejDog
5 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2016
Nicotinic Acid is better on the liver and produces more NAD+ than (NR) plus you can overdose on NR in large amounts.

NIPSZX, nicotinic acid is just niacin, and a dose higher than 100 mg/day, or mixing even with 100 mg with a strong tea, is practically certain to cause a very annoying flushing reaction. What do you think of nicotinamide instead in say 250-500 mg doses?
Telekinetic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2016
I'm a nutraceutical fiend, and I take 500 mgs. of niacinamide (nicotinamide) every morning. I also take D-ribose with it in an attempt to mimic the composition of NR after it breaks down into these two compounds in vivo. I also take a number of other proven compounds in sensible amounts. The net result is that I can't be distinguished from the younger mice despite my turning 61 in a few days. These anti-oxidants and cell rejuvenators really do work. I wish I could be a test subject for Calico, Google's longevity research company.
Shootist
4 / 5 (1) May 01, 2016
I was stressed out due to witnessing a fight so I couldn't peg the nightmares directly to the NR.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.