In a press release, a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder have found an antioxidant that targets the mitochondria within a cell to reverse some of the aging effects on arteries.
Mitochondria is a structure within a cell that, among other functions, produces superoxide, which in low levels is important for some functions in the cell. However, in large quantities, superoxide destroys nitric oxide, a necessity in triggering blood vessel dilation, leaving us open for cardiovascular disease.
Nitric oxide is produced in the endothelium. The endothelium is a thin layer of cellular blood vessel lining.
The CU-Boulder team’s novel antioxidant (MitoQ) targets the mitochondria.
The study involved giving old mice MitoQ treatment for 4 weeks. The age of the mice was equivalent to a 70-80 year old human.
After treatment, the endothelium of these mice exhibited characteristics of a 25-35 year old specimen.
Rachel Gioscia-Ryan, a doctoral student in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the study’s lead author was quoted in the press release as saying “One of the hallmarks of primary aging is endothelial dysfunction. MitoQ completely restored endothelial function in the old mice. They looked like young mice.”
The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and was published in the Journal of Physiology.
A phenomenon, known as oxidative stress, happens when older adult cells begin to produce too much superoxide. Not only does it take its toll on the nitric oxide and the endothelium, but it can turn against the mitochondria also. Being further damaged, the mitochondria produce even more superoxide. This a bad cycle to be in.
Gioscia-Ryan described it as, ” You have this kind of balance, but with aging there is this shift. There become way more reactive oxygen species than your antioxidant defenses can handle.”
MitoQ, is manufactured by adding a molecule to a naturally occurring antioxidant, ubiquinone, (also known as coenzymeQ10), which allows the ubiquinone to become concentrated in mitochondria.
“The question is, ‘Why aren’t we all just taking a bunch of vitamin C?” Gioscia-Ryan asked. “Scientists think that, taken orally, antioxidants like vitamin C aren’t getting to the places where the reactive oxygen species are being made. MitoQ basically tracks right to the mitochondria.”
Other CU-Boulder co-authors of the study include postdoctoral researchers Thomas LaRocca and Amy Sindler, professional research assistant Melanie Zigler and Seals. Professor Michael Murphy of the Medical Research Council’s Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, England, who helped develop MitoQ, also is a co-author.
MitoQ is manufactured by MitoQ Ltd., and is available as a dietary supplement and skin cream.