Posted on Jul 27, 2019, 6 p.m.
Becoming a longevity warrior and living to 100+ is much more likely for those who have inherited the longevity gene, but according to a new study investigating the specific protein in that gene which reverses cardiovascular aging, one day anyone may be able to become a centenarian.
As published in the European Heart Journal the team suggests their longevity gene therapy model may offer the possibility of combating cardiovascular disease by revitalizing blood vessels to younger states, which could lead to longer and healthier lives for everyone.
The team had previously discovered this longevity gene working on a project because of its prevalence in humans who lived to be 100+ years old. The specific protein BPIFB4 which is encoded by the gene was also identified. In this study the gene was inserted into the DNA of mice that were engineered to develop atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease due to being fed high fat diets.
“The results were extremely encouraging,” says research team coordinator Annibale Puca, with the University of Salerno, in a release. “We observed an improvement in the functionality of the endothelium (the inner surface of blood vessels), a reduction of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries and a decrease in the inflammatory state.”
The cardiovascular systems of the animals given the gene were discovered to be renewed to more youthful vigor. Next the team experimented on human blood vessels by placing the BPIFP4 protein directly into the vessels which yielded the same rejuvenating results.
Following the success of the previous experiments the team moved onto human studies and found that healthier blood vessels were associated with higher levels of the longevity gene’s protein in the blood; those that carry the gene were shown to have higher levels of the BPIFB4 protein.
This was a collaborative study from the University of Salerno Medical School Department of Medicine, Surgery, and Dentistry along with the IRCCS Neuromed and IRCCS MultiMedica.The team suggests their findings may be a breakthrough in preserving heart health as we age which may potentially allow those who are not carriers of the longevity gene to live longer.
“Of course, much research will still be needed,” says Carmine Vecchione, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Salerno, director of the Cardiology Unit at Ruggi D’Aragona Hospital. “But we think it is possible, by administering the protein to patients, to slow down cardiovascular damage due to age. In other words, even if a person does not possess those particular genetic characteristics, we could be able to offer the same level of protection.”
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