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Epitalon – Anti-aging Miracle or Hoax?
The science of aging is still a new territory that is getting explored. Thus, biogerontology is a focus of anti-aging drug discovery. The focus on the research is driven by the cosmetics companies trying to find suitable compounds which can sustain youth and delay the aging process. Hence, it is crucial to understand the mechanism of aging.
The effect of a drug that alters aging requires an endpoint to be measured, which is either the life span, health span, or biomarkers of aging. These biomarkers should fulfill the following conditions.
It should predict life span and not only chronological age
It should monitor the underlying aging process
It is required to withstand repeated testing without harming the test subject.
It should be effective in laboratory animals.
In the past decades, Prof. Vladimir Khavinson conducted several works on mice and came across interesting theories. One of them being that epitalon can demonstrate anti-aging properties due to telomerase activation and elongation of telomeres.
What is Epitalon?
Epitalon is also known as Epithalon or Epithalamine, a synthetic pineal tetrapeptide. It consists of four amino acids (Alanine, Glutamic acid, Aspartic acid, Glycine). It is identical to the natural peptide called Epithalamin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland.
The peptide molecule interacts with and induces the sensitivity of the hypothalamus towards the natural hormone. This monitors the circadian rhythm of the body and controls melatonin production. The peptide has shown positive influence in the areas of anti-aging; it enhances life expectancy and inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells (breast, prostate, and colon).
It plays a role in metabolism, increasing the sensitivity of the hypothalamus to its natural hormone influences. This regulates the level of melatonin in the body of animal test subjects, improving the circadian rhythm. It also has anti-aging effects and extends life expectancy. It also inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells in the breasts, colon, prostate e.t.c.
What is meant by aging?
Aging is the natural physiological phenomenon whereby cells undergoing repeated division cycles ultimately shorten their telomere length beyond the Hayflick limit. These cells then lose some of the good DNA required for their proper propagation. Such aged cells either leak out accumulated toxins into the surrounding system or undergo self-degradation (apoptosis or programmed cell death). However, sometimes such aging cells, instead of perishing, turn rogue and adversely affect tissues of various organs like kidneys, lungs, liver, brain, and heart causing the onset of diseases.
Mechanism of Action of Epitalon
Epitalon increases the production of telomerase, a natural enzyme that helps cells reproduce telomeres. It is the protective component of DNA and prevents the loss of genetic information. This results in chromosome shortening. Telomeres get shorter every time a cell divides, and this is closely linked to age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, and ultimately death in elderly subjects.
If telomerase can be activated, cells can potentially exceed their time limit and may reverse the mechanism of aging. The longer the telomere strand is, the better cell health and replication they provide. Therefore epitalon plays a vital role in decreasing the aging process and extends longevity.
The Anti-aging Effect of Epitalon
The life extension and anti-aging properties of the synthetic tetrapeptide epitalon are remarkable. Experimental studies show that epitalon does this by the following mechanisms.
Elongating telomeres and activating telomerase
Telomerase is the enzyme that elongates telomeres in the body. It also protects the DNA from the damage caused by aging. When cells replicate, they have a predefined number of cycles they can perform. In Professor Khavinson’s studies, epitalon treated cells made forty-four passages (ten extra divisions compared to normal cells). Therefore, the studies support the evidence that Epitalon prolongs the life of cells.
Stimulating endogenous melatonin secretion
The pineal gland maintains melatonin levels. Investigations demonstrated a significant decrease in the content of melatonin in the blood of aging animals. This hormone is important in the function of the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems. Introducing melatonin produces a geroprotective influence. However, this could provoke side effects, such as neoplastic growth. This promoted the search for effective stimulants of endogenous melatonin secretion.
Epitalon has been found to act as an antioxidant and decrease age-related alterations in the immune and neuroendocrine systems. Therefore, reducing the incidence of chronic diseases and infections.
Life-span studies can be difficult because they take a long time in animals. Despite all the research using epitalon, there are still many questions. Is it possible to halt the process of aging or reverse it and preserve life indefinitely? We will wait for more research on this peptide.
Disclaimer: The products mentioned are not for human or animal consumption. All the information shared in this article is for educational purposes only.
Dr. Usman (BSc, MBBS, MaRCP) completed his studies in medicine at the Royal College of Physicians, London. He is an avid researcher with more than 30 publications in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Usman has worked as a researcher and a medical consultant for reputable pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi.