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N-acetylcysteine helps reverse DNA damage associated with aging

N-acetylcysteine helps reverse DNA damage associated with aging

Tuesday, November 8, 2011. The October 15, 2011 issue of the journal Human Molecular Genetics published a report by researchers from Durham University in England and the University of Bologna in Italy concerning their discovery of a possible benefit for N-acetylcysteine in preventing and repairing DNA damage in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), one of several inherited diseases known as a laminopathies caused by mutations in the gene LMNA.

In their introductory remarks, Professor Christopher J. Hutchison and his associates note that "Fibroblasts from patients with the severe laminopathy diseases, restrictive dermopathy and Hutchinson Gilford progeria syndrome, are characterized by poor growth in culture, the presence of abnormally shaped nuclei and the accumulation of DNA double-strand breaks." (Fibroblasts are the most common type of cell in animal connective tissue, and are responsible for synthesizing collagen.) The team determined that the poor growth and double-strand breaks observed in the diseases are caused by high amounts of reactive oxygen species (a type of free radical that can react with and damage cells), as well as increased sensitivity to oxidative stress. While tests of normal fibroblasts showed efficient repair of double-strand breaks induced by reactive oxygen species, these breaks proved to be nonrepairable in fibroblasts from patients with laminopathy diseases. However, administration of N-acetylcysteine, a reactive oxygen species scavenger, resulted in a reduction in DNA double-strand breaks, elimination of unrepairable reactive-oxygen species-induced double-strand breaks, and improved growth.

"Our findings suggest that unrepaired reactive oxygen species-induced double-strand breaks contribute significantly to the restrictive dermopathy and HGPS phenotypes and that inclusion of NAC in a combinatorial therapy might prove beneficial to HGPS patients," the authors conclude.

"In children with progeria, we can see that double-strand breaks in the DNA architecture of cells increase which in turn adds to poor rates of cell growth," explained Dr Hutchison, who is a member of Durham University's Biophysical Sciences Institute. "Our treatment of these cells with the drug N-acetylcysteine (NAC) reversed both of these effects."

"Mutations in the LMNA gene cause more diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, than any other that we know," he observed. "We've found that DNA damage can be controlled and our findings could be an important step to helping both children with progeria and older people to live lives that are less debilitating in terms of health problems."

"We are using a careful approach that will look at patients with progeria to see if there's a model that can be used for wider medicine," Dr Hutchison added. "It would be great to find a way to help relieve some of the effects of progeria and to extend the children's lives, whilst also finding a way to help increasingly aging populations in many parts of the world. The findings are at a very early stage but they show the potential for helping people to live more comfortable and less painful lives when they reach 70 and 80 years of age and beyond."

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Accelerated aging found in adult children of stressed mothers

Accelerated aging found in adult children of stressed mothers

An article published online on August 3, 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, coauthored by Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California, found an indication of accelerated aging in young adults whose mothers had undergone psychological trauma during pregnancy.

The team assessed white blood cell telomere length in 94 healthy young men and women, 49 of whom had mothers who had experienced traumatic life events during their pregnancies. Telomeres are segments of DNA that protect the ends of the cells' chromosomes, helping to maintain their stability. Because telomeres shorten with age, telomere length is used as a marker of cellular aging.

The researchers found shorter telomeres in subjects whose mothers had experienced traumatic stress. The amount of telomere shortening experienced on average by this group was equivalent to being three and one half years older than participants born to mothers who had uneventful pregnancies. The effect was more pronounced in women than men.

"Our previous research on prenatal stress exposure has shown its effects on long-term metabolic, immune, endocrine and cognitive function," stated lead author, Pathik D. Wadhwa, MD, who is a professor of psychiatry & human behavior, obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics, and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine. "But this is the first to show the impact of prenatal stress on cell aging in humans, and it sheds light on an important biological pathway underlying the developmental origins of adult disease risk."

First author Sonja Entringer added that "These results indicate that stress exposure in intrauterine life is a significant predictor of adult telomere length – even after accounting for other established prenatal and postnatal influences on telomere length."

Life Extension®'s Blog
How to wake up from chronic fatigue, by Michael A. Smith, MD

How to wake up from chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious medical condition that affects approximately 500,000 Americans.1 It typically targets women between the ages of 25 and 45, but it can actually affect anyone at any age. Unfortunately, the disease has no known cause, and there aren't any tests that can measure for it.

CFS is defined as a set of symptoms that include prolonged, overwhelming fatigue that begins when you wake up and lasts the entire day. This fatigue is often amplified when exercising, as your muscles become tired very quickly.

Many people afflicted with CFS have complaints that extend well-beyond fatigue. Mood swings, muscle spasms, pain, headaches, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite are all common complaints that come along for the ride. And some experts now believe it may run in families.

Many researchers believe that CFS is triggered by a number of factors including infectious agents, mental or physical stress, nutrient deficiencies, immune system abnormalities and maybe even allergies.

A diagnosis of CFS often leaves people feeling alone and pretty helpless. Since traditional medicine doesn't have any treatment options to offer, conventional doctors usually prescribe antidepressants as a Band-Aid. We think this should be a last resort though.


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