Humanin, the & # 039; superprotein & # 039; that keeps us healthy and makes us live longer

American researchers have been the first to demonstrate that the humanina, a tiny protein, has a huge impact on health and longevity in both animals and humans.

Scientists from the University of Southern California (United States) have discovered new peculiarities of humanin, a peptide encoded in the small genome of mitochondria, the "power plants" of cells. Thus, higher levels of humanin in the body are connected with a longer life span, better health and a lower risk of diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"Humanine has long been known to help prevent many age-related diseases, but this is the first time that it has also been shown to can increase life expectancy"explains the lead author, Pinchas Cohen, professor of Gerontology, Medicine and Biological Sciences and dean of the University of Southern California.

Humanin has been found not only in human mitochondria but also in the whole animal kingdom, a sign that its related gene has been maintained, or conserved, throughout evolution. The study, which is published in the scientific journal 'Aging', has examined humanin in various animal species, such as worms and mice, as well as humans, including Alzheimer's patients and children of people who have reached 100 years of age. The results highlight the potential of humanin and other mitochondrial proteins to become treatments for age-related diseases.

They also indicate that humanin may be an ancient mitochondrial signaling mechanism that is key to regulating the health and life of the body, according to the associate professor of research at the University of Southern California Kelvin Yen.

More life expectancy, fewer children

In humans, researchers observed higher and sustained levels of humanin in 18 children of centenarians, compared to a control group of 19 non-centennial children. Individuals whose parents reach 100 years of age are statistically more likely than others to reach a very advanced age. Similar results were obtained by checking the level of humanin in different animal species. In some species, including worms and mice, modifying their genes to produce higher amounts of humanin in their bodies was enough to significantly increase life span. However, these older animals they had less offspring, a pattern that scientists have also observed in humans who live for many years.

"It is the first time that humanin has been shown to also increase life expectancy"

"This balance between longevity and reproduction is believed to be due to a evolutionarily conserved balance between the use of energy to produce more offspring or the use of energy to maintain the organism for future reproductive efforts, "explains Yen in statements collected by Neuroscience News." Evolutionarily speaking, the goal of life is to reproduce and then it is already done, but if you can't reproduce, you should try to stay as long as possible, and a side effect of that is longevity. "

Higher levels of humanin are not only linked to a longer life span; lower levels can increase the risk of disease and reduce resistance to toxic exposures. The researchers analyzed cerebrospinal fluid samples from a small number of Alzheimer's patients and control subjects without dementia, and noted that humanin levels were much lower in Alzheimer's patients. And in umbilical cord blood samples from newborns, high levels of humanin were correlated with high copy number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), or the copy number of the mitochondrial genome present in each cell.

This new study highlights the importance of humanin as a potentially powerful regulator of life span and health, and its use for treatments. could address a variety of age-related diseasesCohen concludes.