As we age, our bodies go through a variety of changes that can significantly affect and contribute to a decline in function. Common molecular-level transformations associated with aging include genomic instability, telomere shortening, epigenetic adaptations and mitochondrial dysfunction. Understanding these key hallmarks is an essential part of the field of aging research for those seeking successful healthy advancement into old age.
Scientists have made a major breakthrough in the understanding of aging. They’ve discovered that as we age, sphingolipids, primarily ceramides, begin to accumulate and slowly erode muscle function. But the research has revealed an unwelcome effect of these fat molecules. Commonly found in skin care products, they are usually thought to benefit aging skin. However, a joint study by Helsinki and Lausanne Universities discovered that these same molecules can cause muscle deterioration with age. This is the first time such harm caused by ceramides has been brought to light.
As we get older, our muscles tend to deteriorate and become weaker. It was discovered that an increase in ceramides (and other sphingolipid molecules) are found within muscles as people grow older. Acting like internal messengers for cells, these lipids are increasingly being linked to various aspects of age-related diseases due to their role in regulating cellular processes from cell division through insulin signaling.
Slowing down the natural aging process could become a reality with new research linking muscle strength and stem cell function to reduced ceramides. By administering myriocin, an inhibitor of ceramide production, researchers were able to preserve balance, running capacity and overall muscular health in aging mice. Amazingly this even resulted in more white muscle fibers being produced; essential for maintaining strength and speed.
Researchers also set out to explore whether inhibiting ceramide synthesis can help forestall muscle deterioration in humans. To answer this, they examined thousands of samples from elderly people as part of the wide-ranging Helsinki Birth Cohort Study. Incredibly, results revealed that a quarter had a specific gene variant with similar effects as myriocin, thus, lowering ceramide levels within their muscles.
The advancements made here may lead us one step closer towards successful treatments against muscle atrophy associated with old age. These findings provide exciting prospects for developing potential therapies aimed at reversing the effects of getting older, opening new doors towards fighting off biological time. This research indicates a pharmaceutical that could reduce levels of sphingolipids may be beneficial for enhancing strength, endurance, and agility in humans later in life.
To view the original scientific study click below:
Sphingolipids accumulate in aged muscle, and their reduction counteracts sarcopenia