Telomeres and Aging

Recent research indicates that the ends of chromosomes (i.e. telomeres) play a key role in aging. Telomeres shorten as we age, leading to aging at the cellular level. Telomerase is the key antiaging enzyme that repairs the ends of chromosome (telomeres) by maintaining telomere length. Harvard scientists have shown that the fundamental cause of age-related health decline is linked to telomerase. Mice without telomerase prematurely age, whereas activating telomerase in these old mice brings back youthful looks and function. Many scientists believe that telomerase mediated reversal of age-related disorders may also work in humans. It has been shown that healthy diet and exercise, which lengthen life, increase telomerase activity and telomere length1.

Stem cells are the main class of cells in humans that have detectable telomerase activity. Unfortunately, telomerase activity in human stem cells is typically insufficient to maintain needed function with age. Pterostilbene is a highly potent natural analog of Resveratrol that increases telomerase activity in stem cells. Pterostilbene also shows greatly improved oral adsorption and metabolic stability with better activity levels. Resveratrol has been shown to activate telomerase in human adult stem cells in independent studies8,9,10. It also activates the WRN helicase gene that repairs telomeres8, whereas low activities of the WRN gene lead to the premature aging disease known as Warner syndrome. Unfortunately, resveratrol has a 14 min half life in the body and thus is not nearly as effective as its long lasting analog pterostilbene. We have verified that pterostilbene is indeed active in stimulating telomerase.

1. Ornish D, Lin J, Daubenmier J, et al. Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: a pilot study. Lancet Oncol. Nov 2008;9(11):1048-1057.

2. Xia L, Wang XX, Hu XS, et al. Resveratrol reduces endothelial progenitor cells senescence through augmentation of telomerase activity by Akt-dependent mechanisms. Br J Pharmacol. Oct 2008;155(3):387-394.

3. Pearce VP, Sherrell J, Lou Z, Kopelovich L, Wright WE, Shay JW. Immortalization of epithelial progenitor cells mediated by resveratrol. Oncogene. Apr 10 2008;27(17):2365-2374.