An antioxidant that targets specific cell structuresmitochondriamay be able to reverse some of the negative effects of aging on arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
When the research team gave old micethe equivalent of 70- to 80-year-old humanswater containing an antioxidant known as MitoQ for four weeks, their arteries functioned as well as the arteries of mice with an equivalent human age of just 25 to 35 years.
The researchers believe that MitoQ affects the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that lines our blood vessels. One of the many functions of the endothelium is to help arteries dilate when necessary. As people age, the endothelium is less able to trigger dilation and this leads to a greater susceptibility to cardiovascular disease.
"One of the hallmarks of primary aging is endothelial dysfunction," said Rachel Gioscia-Ryan, a doctoral student in CU-Boulder's Department of Integrative Physiology and lead author of the new study. "MitoQ completely restored endothelial function in the old mice. They looked like young mice."
The study, published in the Journal of Physiology, was funded by the National Institute on Aging, one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health and a leader in the scientific effort to understand the nature of aging.
To trigger blood vessel dilation, the endothelium makes nitric oxide. As we age, the nitric oxide meant to cause dilation is increasingly destroyed by reactive oxygen species such as superoxide, which are produced by many components of our body's own cells, including organelles called mitochondria.
In a double-whammy, superoxide also reacts directly with the enzyme that makes nitric oxide, reducing the amount of nitric oxide being produced to begin with. All of this means less blood vessel dilation.
Even in the young and healthy, mitochondria produce sup
|Contact: Rachel Gioscia-Ryan|
University of Colorado at Boulder