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Life Extension Magazine January 2011


On the enigma of carnosine’s anti-ageing actions.

Carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) has described as a forgotten and enigmatic dipeptide. Carnosine’s enigma is particularly exemplified by its apparent anti-ageing actions; it suppresses cultured human fibroblast senescence and delays ageing in senescence-accelerated mice and Drosophila, but the mechanisms responsible remain uncertain. In addition to carnosine’s well-documented anti-oxidant, anti-glycating, aldehyde-scavenging and toxic metal-ion chelating properties, its ability to influence the metabolism of altered polypeptides, whose accumulation characterises the senescent phenotype, should also be considered. When added to cultured cells, carnosine was found in a recent study to suppress phosphorylation of the translational initiation factor eIF4E resulting in decreased translation frequency of certain mRNA species. Mutations in the gene coding for eIF4E in nematodes extend organism life span, hence carnosine’s anti-ageing effects may be a consequence of decreased error-protein synthesis which in turn lowers formation of protein carbonyls and increases protease availability for degradation of polypeptides altered postsynthetically. Other studies have revealed carnosine-induced upregulation of stress protein expression and nitric oxide synthesis, both of which may stimulate proteasomal elimination of altered proteins. Some anti-convulsants can enhance nematode longevity and suppress the effects of a protein repair defect in mice, and as carnosine exerts anti-convulsant effects in rodents, it is speculated that the dipeptide may participate in the repair of protein isoaspartyl groups. These new observations only add to the enigma of carnosine’s real in vivo functions. More experimentation is clearly required.

Exp Gerontol. 2009 Apr;44(4):237-42

Aging, Proteotoxicity, Mitochondria, Glycation, NAD and Carnosine: Possible Inter-Relationships and Resolution of the Oxygen Paradox.

It is suggested that NAD(+) availability strongly affects cellular aging and organism lifespan: low NAD(+) availability increases intracellular levels of glycolytic triose phosphates (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate and dihydroxyacetone-phosphate) which, if not further metabolized, decompose spontaneously into methylglyoxal (MG), a glycating agent and source of protein and mitochondrial dysfunction and reactive oxygen species (ROS). MG-damaged proteins and other aberrant polypeptides can induce ROS generation, promote mitochondrial dysfunction and inhibit proteasomal activity. Upregulation of mitogenesis and mitochondrial activity by increased aerobic exercise, or dietary manipulation, helps to maintain NAD(+)availability and thereby decreases MG-induced proteotoxicity. These proposals can explain the apparent paradox whereby aging is seemingly caused by increased ROS-mediated macromolecular damage but is ameliorated by increased aerobic activity. It is also suggested that increasing mitochondrial activity decreases ROS generation, while excess numbers of inactive mitochondria are deleterious due to increased ROS generation. The muscle- and brain-associated dipeptide, carnosine, is an intracellular buffer which can delay senescence in cultured human fibroblasts and delay aging in senescence-accelerated mice. Carnosine’s ability to react with MG and possibly other deleterious carbonyl compounds, and scavenge various ROS, may account for its protective ability towards ischemia and ageing.

Front Aging Neurosci. 2010 Mar 18;2:10

Carnosine and its possible roles in nutrition and health.

The dipeptide carnosine has been observed to exert antiaging activity at cellular and whole animal levels. This review discusses the possible mechanisms by which carnosine may exert antiaging action and considers whether the dipeptide could be beneficial to humans. Carnosine’s possible biological activities include scavenger of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), chelator of zinc and copper ions, and antiglycating and anticross-linking activities. Carnosine’s ability to react with deleterious aldehydes such as malondialdehyde, methylglyoxal, hydroxynonenal, and acetaldehyde may also contribute to its protective functions. Physiologically carnosine may help to suppress some secondary complications of diabetes, and the deleterious consequences of ischemic-reperfusion injury, most likely due to antioxidation and carbonyl-scavenging functions. Other, and much more speculative, possible functions of carnosine considered include transglutaminase inhibition, stimulation of proteolysis mediated via effects on proteasome activity or induction of protease and stress-protein gene expression, upregulation of corticosteroid synthesis, stimulation of protein repair, and effects on ADP-ribose metabolism associated with sirtuin and poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) activities. Evidence for carnosine’s possible protective action against secondary diabetic complications, neurodegeneration, cancer, and other age-related pathologies is briefly discussed.

Adv Food Nutr Res. 2009;57:87-154

The cytotoxic mechanism of malondialdehyde and protective effect of carnosine via protein cross-linking/mitochondrial dysfunction/reactive oxygen species/MAPK pathway in neurons.

The accumulation of malondialdehyde (MDA), a lipid peroxidation by-product that has been used as an indicator of cellular oxidation status, is significantly increased in many neurological diseases such as brain ischemia/reperfusion, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in vivo. In the present study, we found that MDA treatment in vitro reduced cortical neuronal viability in a time- and dose-dependent manner and induced cellular apoptosis as well as necrosis simultaneously. Furthermore, exposure to MDA led to accumulation of intracellular reactive oxygen species, dysfunction of mitochondria (denoted by the loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential and activation of JNK and ERK. Carnosine exhibited better protection against MDA-induced cell injury than antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) with its multi-potency, which alleviated MDA-induced protein cross-linking, reactive oxygen species burst, JNK and ERK activation. In conclusion, our results suggest that MDA induced cell injury in vitro via protein cross-linking and successive mitochondrial dysfunction, and the activation of reactive oxygen species-dependent MAPK signaling pathway. Carnosine alleviated all these alterations induced by MDA, but NAC merely inhibited Bcl-2 family-related activation of JNK and ERK. These results prompt the possibility that carnosine, but not other conventional antioxidants, can protect neurons against MDA-induced injury through decomposition of protein cross-linking toxicity and may serve as a novel agent in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Eur J Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 21

Effect of carnosine and its Trolox-modified derivatives on life span of Drosophila melanogaster.

This study investigated the effect of antioxidants, i.e., carnosine and its Trolox- (water-soluble analog of alpha-tocopherol) acylated derivatives (S,S)-6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carbonyl-beta-alanyl-L-histidine (S,S-Trolox-carnosine, STC) and (R,S)-6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carbonyl- beta-alanyl-L-histidine (R,S-Trolox-carnosine, RTC) on the life span of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Adding carnosine to foodstuff was accompanied and followed by a 20% increase in the average life span of males, but it did not influence the average life span of females. At the same time, adding STC to foodstuff prolonged average longevity both in males (by 16%) and females (by 36%), but the addition of RTC to foodstuff had no influence upon the average life span of insects of either gender. The compounds studied have previously been shown to protect neurons of the rat brain from oxidative stress in the descending order of efficiency: RTC > STC > carnosine. The finding obtained in the present study suggests another order of efficacy regarding the effect on life span in male insects: STC > carnosine > RTC (inefficient). No correlation between antioxidant protection of rat neurons and the effect on life span of the fruit fly makes it possible to suppose the presence of additional cellular targets to be acted upon by exposure of D. melanogaster to these compounds.

Rejuvenation Res. 2010 Aug;13(4):453-7

Biological activity of novel synthetic derivatives of carnosine.

Two novel derivatives of carnosine—(S)-trolox-L-carnosine (STC) and (R)-trolox-L-carnosine (RTC) are characterized in terms of their antioxidant and membrane-stabilizing activities as well as their resistance to serum carnosinase. STC and RTC were synthesized by N-acylation of L-carnosine with (S)- and (R)-trolox, respectively. STC and RTC were found to react more efficiently with 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH) and protect serum lipoproteins from Fe(2+)-induced oxidation more successfully than carnosine and trolox. At the same time, STC, RTC and trolox suppressed oxidative hemolysis of red blood cells (RBC) less efficiently than carnosine taken in the same concentration. When oxidative stress was induced in suspension of cerebellum granule cells by their incubation with N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), or hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), both STC and RTC more efficiently decreased accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) than carnosine and trolox. Both STC and RTC were resistant toward hydrolytic degradation by human serum carnosinase. STC and RTC were concluded to demonstrate higher antioxidant capacity and better ability to prevent cerebellar neurons from ROS accumulation than their precursors, carnosine and trolox.

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Apr;30(3):395-404

Carnosine and carnosine-related antioxidants: a review.

First isolated and characterized in 1900 by Gulewitsch, carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-hystidine) is a dipeptide commonly present in mammalian tissue, and in particular in skeletal muscle cells; it is responsible for a variety of activities related to the detoxification of the body from free radical species and the by-products of membrane lipids peroxidation, but recent studies have shown that this small molecule also has membrane-protecting activity, proton buffering capacity, formation of complexes with transition metals, and regulation of macrophage function. It has been proposed that carnosine could act as a natural scavenger of dangerous reactive aldehydes from the degradative oxidative pathway of endogenous molecules such as sugars, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and proteins. In particular, it has been recently demonstrated that carnosine is a potent and selective scavenger of alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehydes, typical by-products of membrane lipids peroxidation and considered second messengers of the oxidative stress, and inhibits aldehyde-induced protein-protein and DNA-protein cross-linking in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, in cardiovascular ischemic damage, in inflammatory diseases. The research for new and more potent scavengers for HNE and other alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehydes has produced a consistent variety of carnosine analogs, and the present review will resume, through the scientific literature and the international patents, the most recent developments in this field.

Curr Med Chem. 2005;12(20):2293-315

Effects of L-carnosine on renal sympathetic nerve activity and DOCA-salt hypertension in rats.

The effects of L-carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) on the neural activity of the renal sympathetic nerve and on DOCA-salt hypertension in rats were examined. Intravenous injection of 1 microg L-carnosine inhibited renal sympathetic nerve activity in urethane-anesthetized animals, and a diet containing 0.0001% or 0.001% L-carnosine decreased blood pressure elevation in DOCA-salt hypertensive rats. Since L-carnosine is mainly synthesized in the skeletal muscles of mammals, it is not unreasonable to postulate that L-carnosine is an endogenous factor controlling the blood pressure in a manner possibly antagonistic to the obesity-associated hypertensive effect of leptin.

Auton Neurosci. 2002 May 31;97(2):99-102

Influence of carnosine on the cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin in rabbits.

The aim of this study was to establish the effect of naturally occurring antioxidant carnosine (CAR) on the doxorubicin (DOX)-induced cardiotoxicity in a rabbit model. For this purpose, we evaluated the influence of DOX administration alone and in a combined therapy with CAR on the hemodynamic parameters and on the degree of cardiac muscle cell alterations in rabbits. Thirty one chinchilla rabbits were divided into four groups. One group of rabbits was injected iv with DOX at a dose of 2 mg kg(-1) weekly for 7 weeks to induce congestive heart failure. Another group of rabbits received the same doses of DOX simultaneously with CAR at a dose of 100 mg kg(-1) po daily for 9 weeks. Administration of CAR started 1 week prior to the first dose of DOX and ended one week after the administration of the last dose of DOX. The control groups of animals received 0.9% NaCl and CAR alone. The following hemodynamic parameters were estimated: heart rate (HR), mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac index (CI), stroke index (SI) and total peripheral resistance (TPR). Registration of the hemodynamic parameters in rabbits was performed by Doppler method (Hugo Sachs Elektronik Haemodyn). CAR normalized the values of MAP in rabbits receiving DOX and increased the values of CI and SI. The influence of CAR on TPR was not statistically significant, but there was a decreasing tendency. The degree of cardiac muscle cell alterations was examined by light microscopy using Mean Total Score (MTS) technique. The histopathological studies revealed smaller damage of cardiac muscle in rabbits which received DOX with CAR in comparison to animals receiving DOX alone. CAR seems to be cardioprotective during DOX administration.

Pol J Pharmacol. 2003 Nov-Dec;55(6):1079-87

Carnosine and its constituents inhibit glycation of low-density lipoproteins that promotes foam cell formation in vitro.

Glycation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by reactive aldehydes, such as glycolaldehyde, can result in the cellular accumulation of cholesterol in macrophages. In this study, it is shown that carnosine, or its constituent amino acids beta-alanine and l-histidine, can inhibit the modification of LDL by glycolaldehyde when present at equimolar concentrations to the modifying agent. This protective effect was accompanied by inhibition of cholesterol and cholesteryl ester accumulation in human monocyte-derived macrophages incubated with the glycated LDL. Thus, carnosine and its constituent amino acids may have therapeutic potential in preventing diabetes-induced atherosclerosis.

FEBS Lett. 2007 Mar 6;581(5):1067-70

Anti-ischemic activity of carnosine.

This review summarizes the data on anti-ischemic activity of carnosine. The pronounced anti-ischemic effects of carnosine in the brain and heart are due to the combination of antioxidant and membrane-protecting activity, proton buffering capacity, formation of complexes with transition metals, and regulation of macrophage function. In experimental cerebral ischemia, carnosine decreases mortality and is beneficial for neurological conditions of the animals. In cardiac ischemia, carnosine protects cardiomyocytes from damage and improves contractility of the heart. The data indicate that carnosine can be used as an anti-ischemic drug.

Biochemistry (Mosc). 2000 Jul;65(7):849-55

Carnosine protects against permanent cerebral ischemia in histidine decarboxylase knockout mice by reducing glutamate excitotoxicity.

Recently, we showed that carnosine protects against NMDA- induced excitotoxicity in differentiated PC12 cells through a histaminergic pathway. However, whether the protective effect of the carnosine metabolic pathway also occurs in ischemic brain is unknown. Utilizing the model of permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO) in mice, we found that carnosine significantly improved neurological function and decreased infarct size in both histidine decarboxylase knockout and the corresponding wild-type mice to the same extent. Carnosine decreased the glutamate levels and preserved the expression of glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1) but not the glutamate/aspartate transporter in astrocytes exposed to ischemia in vivo and in vitro. It suppressed the dissipation of Delta Psi(m) and generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by oxygen-glucose deprivation in astrocytes. Furthermore, carnosine also decreased the mitochondrial ROS and reversed the decrease in GLT-1 induced by rotenone. These findings are the first to demonstrate that the mechanism of carnosine action in pMCAO may not be mediated by the histaminergic pathway, but by reducing glutamate excitotoxicity through the effective regulation of the expression of GLT-1 in astrocytes due to improved mitochondrial function. Thus, our study reveals a novel antiexcitotoxic agent in ischemic injury.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2010 Mar 1;48(5):727-35

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