The process of aging in the human body involves many moving parts, but one that recent research continues to implicate is the role of zombie-like senescent cells. These are cells that have stopped dividing and begun to accumulate, driving a range of degenerative effects in the body. New research out of China has uncovered a natural compound in grape seeds that takes aim at these dysfunctional cells, and demonstrated how it can extend the lifespan of aging mice by more than nine percent.
This newly discovered anti-aging compound falls under a relatively new class of drugs known as senolytics, which are being developed to selectively induce the death of senescent cells, with the overarching aim of increasing our healthspan and lifespan. We have seen some promising developments in the past few years, with studies showing how senolytic drugs could preserve aging spines, apply the brakes to diabetes and offer a new defense against dementia.
The latest discovery in this area comes from scientists at China's Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health, who investigated a wide range of plant-derived compounds in search of potential new senolytic drugs. This led them to one derived from grape seeds called procyanidin C1 (PCC1), which they found intervenes in the survival of senescent cells by inducing a type of programmed cell death called apoptosis, while leaving healthy cells largely unharmed.
This effect was observed in various tissues and organs in older mice, where senescent cells were shown to be significantly decreased after the rodents were administered the PCC1 compound. This led to health benefits including a reversal of organ degeneration and, in mice with transplanted tumors, improved therapeutic outcomes when combined with traditional chemotherapy.
In very old mice aged 24 to 27 months, equal to 75 to 90 years in humans, the PCC1 treatment extended their remaining lifespan by more than 60 percent, or increased their total lifespan by more than nine percent. These results are promising and add further weight to the idea that targeting senescent cells could be an effective intervention in the aging process, though the scientists say further exploration into the mechanisms at play are needed before PCC1 is trialed in humans.
"Although PCC1 delivery by intermittent programs appears to be well tolerated by mice in preclinical trials, further efforts are desired to establish safe routes adaptable for PCC1 treatments in humans, key factors that have to be determined by future clinical studies," says study author Dr Sun Yu.
The research was published in the journal Nature Metabolism.
Source: Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health