A component found in the grape seed extract prolongs the lifespan of mice by nine percent. This chemical appears to destroy the worn-out or senescent cells that form as we age. When used along with chemotherapy, it was observed that this chemical helped improve physical fitness and reduce the tumor size in mice. The findings of this study open up new avenues to treat age-related disorders by reducing inflammation caused due to senescent cells. The results also could prove to be valuable for chemotherapy clinical trials for cancer treatment.
The Role of Senescent Cells in Aging
Senescence essentially refers to the deterioration of functional characteristics in living organisms. For example, wrinkle formation is a part of senescence.
The cells in the body typically keep dividing and regenerating.
But, as we get older, the cells stop dividing and, at the same time, do not die.
When these cells gradually accumulate, they release harmful substances and cause inflammation, damaging the neighboring cells.
These cells are called senescent cells.
Senescent cells accumulate with age.
When this happens, it may result in higher levels of senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) proteins.
Researchers believe that SAPS drives the aging process and promotes aging-related illness.
Senescence in aging tissues results in depletion of stem cells and chronic inflammation.
Stem cells are a set of cells from which all the other cells with specialized functions are derived.
Chronic inflammation drives many aging-related diseases.
An aging researcher discovered that injecting 1 million senescent cells into young mice impaired their physical performance compared to the ones who were injected with non-senescent fat cells.
Further, he added that transplanting senescent cells drove almost all the diseases that mice died of in old age.
In another study, the effect of two drugs that were previously demonstrated to selectively kill senescent cells was studied in mice.
The study reported that after just a couple of weeks of receiving the drug, the mice performed better in physical activities.
Additionally, they were 36% less likely to die the following year than those that were injected with the senescent cells but not the drugs.
All this research conclusively proves that senescent cells are one of the biggest contributors to aging.
Senescence and Senolytics
Senolytics are a class of drugs that work to eliminate senescent cells from the body.
They are being researched to figure out whether they can selectively induce the death or apoptosis of senescent cells and improve health in humans.
A team from the Mayo Clinic in the United States first examined the potential of senolytics as anti-aging agents.
The ultimate promise of senolytics drugs is to be a remedy or cure-all for the ills of aging.
In addition to potentially increasing human lifespan, senolytics are also being recognized for their ability to increase human healthspan.
Healthspan can be defined as the period of one's life that one is healthy - where a person experiences little to no pain, illness, and suffering.
The ability of senolytics to selectively kill senescent cells could be used to treat many age-related illnesses like:
- Vision/hearing loss
The research published in the journal of Nature Metabolism was carried out by a team of scientists affiliated with a host of institutions in China and the U.S.
The scientists discovered a senolytic compound called procyanidin C1 (PCC1) from grape seed extract.
According to previous research, PCC1 at lower concentrations helps inhibit the effects of senescent cells and, at higher concentrations, kills these cells.
Benefits of PCC1
PCC1 is a natural agent with senolytic properties.
Previous research on PCC1 has shown that they offer a lot of health benefits, including cancer prevention and protection against heart diseases and diabetes.
PCC1 is an excellent antioxidant and protects the body against oxidative stress.
Studies have shown that PCC1 can increase the levels of antioxidant enzymes.
Proanthocyanidin, a derivative of PCC1, has 20 times the antioxidant capacity of vitamin C and 50 times the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E.
PCC1 also seems to have anti-cancer properties.
A 2018 study has reported the chemopreventive effect of PCC1 on high-grade prostate cancer.
Research has also shown similar properties of PCC1 in colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer cell lines.
PCC1 has been demonstrated to affect reproductive parameters, development, and fetal health.
However, the exact role played by PCC1 in reproduction and fertility can be identified only with further research.
The researchers designed three sets of experiments to study the anti-aging effect of PCC1 on mice.
The mice were exposed to a sub-lethal dose of radiation in order to induce cellular senescence.
Half of these mice were then treated with PCC1, while the other half were treated with a vehicle (the control group).
The radiation induced many abnormal body features like excessive amounts of grey hair.
- In the mice that received PCC1, the aging-related effects were significantly reversed.
- They also showed a decrease in the number of senescent cells and markers associated with senescence.
- Further, the exercise capacity hampering due to the radiation was also reversed upon administration of PCC1.
Older mice were treated with PCC1 or vehicle every 2 weeks for 4 months.
Before the treatment, senescent cells were found in the kidney, liver, lung, and prostate of the mice.
The treatment with PCC1, however, reversed this.
Further, the mice treated with PCC1 also showed increased handgrip strength, walking speed, endurance, activity levels, and balance compared to the ones that received the vehicle.
The third experiment looked at the longevity of the mice that received PCC1.
It was observed that mice treated with PCC1 lived, on average, 9.4% longer than the ones that received the vehicle.
They also did not develop any serious age-related illnesses.
Are The Results Applicable To Humans?
Any positive animal study results must always be taken with a grain of salt.
Usually, doses given to mice in an experiment, are much more than what humans can tolerate.
In this case, the same dose of PCC1, if given to humans, may result in toxicity.
Studies on rats could provide results more similar to humans’ as they metabolize drugs much as humans do.
Foods That Can Reverse Aging
Procyanidin is widely distributed in legumes, fruits, grains, and leaves.
Some common foods sources that contain high amounts of procyanidin are:
- Cocoa powder
It is also found in lower amounts in foods like:
- Red wine
- Tea levels
Other anti-aging foods that are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients that help fight inflammation and other age-related conditions are:
- Sweet Potato
- Pomegranate Seeds
- As we age, some cells, called the senescent cells, stop diving and do not die. They contribute to significant inflammation and other factors that promote aging.
- Senolytics are a class of drugs that are specifically designed to kill only the senescent cells in the body. PCC1 or Procyanidin is a senolytic with a great senolytic potential.
- PCC1 is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has shown chemopreventive properties in lung, colorectal, breast, bladder, and prostate cancer.
- A study done on mice has demonstrated that PCC1 can not only reverse the effects of senescence but also improve fitness levels and promote a longer lifespan.
- Further research is needed to determine the effects of PCC1 on humans and the exact dose to achieve the senolytic property.
- Some foods that can help fight factors that promote aging are papaya, avocado, legumes, apples, nuts, grapes, pears, kiwis, and broccoli.