A drug prescribed to treat high blood pressure (rilmenidine) may help slow the effects of aging and extend lifespan, according to a new study.
What if taking just one drug was enough to slow down the aging process? Rilmenidine tested in the laboratory on worms C. elegans is currently widely prescribed to treat hypertension in humans. Compared to other drugs already tested for longevity, the side effects of this drug are rare and not serious.
The University of Liverpool researchers show that treating the worm with rilmenidine at young and older ages increases lifespan and improves markers of health, mimicking the effects of calorie restriction.
Benefits similar to calorie restriction
Decreasing energy intake is known to have an anti-aging effect in all species, as it slows metabolism and reduces oxidative stress. The latter promotes cell aging and age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. However, the researchers say studies of calorie restriction in humans have shown mixed results, as well as side effects.
For the study published in Aging Cell, the scientists searched for known compounds that cause a gene expression signature similar to calorie restriction and identified the hypertensor. Furthermore, they demonstrate that stress resistance, lifespan, and benefits of rilmenidine treatment in the worm are mediated by the I1-imidazoline nish-1 receptor, thus identifying it as a potential longevity target.
To do what ?
According to previous work on the aging of the world’s population, people over the age of 65 are the fastest growing demographic group in the world today. But with age comes chronic disease and age-related death, and delaying aging has benefits.
« With an aging global population, the benefits of delaying aging even slightly are immense. The reprogramming of drugs capable of extending lifespan and health status has enormous untapped potential in the field of translational gerosciences said Professor João Pedro Magalhães, who led the research at the University of Liverpool, in a statement. This field of research consists in better understanding the biology of aging and hoping to prolong the number of years to live in good health, by delaying the appearance of pathologies linked to aging.
A large body of evidence has demonstrated that the rate of aging can be markedly slowed in model organisms. The good results of rilmenidine now justify new avenues of research on this compound.
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