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

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7 comments

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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.


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