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The longevity protein Klotho: how it works and what we know about its role

The name is that of the Greek goddess who wove the thread of life. But in this case she is not a deity. If anything, of something (potentially) more powerful: one proteinor rather one family of transmembrane proteinsbaptized indeed Klothowhich has been under the scientific spotlight for years for its possible role in slow down aging and consequently in removing and combating pathologies linked to old age. Among their various functions, these proteins regulate the sensitivity of cells to insulin and are involved in the aging process. Some studies have in fact proven that high levels of Klotho are associated with an increase in lifespan and better health.

One is for example from last July: published on Naturehad proven how, after an experiment on mice, a single administration of klotho at low doses improved memory in elderly non-human primates. Even before, in 2018, other investigations had highlighted – upon closer inspection, partially reducing their role – how these proteins were intermediaries with a family of hormones, the Fgf (fibroblast growth factors), which regulate the metabolic processes of many organs, from the brain to the kidneys via the liver.

Not surprisingly, we read about it Republicthe hypothesis that klotho can counteract age-related cognitive decline is still in its infancy and everything to be explored further. This is explained, for example, by a new study published in Scientific Reports who analyzed the relationship between the protein and physical functions in a group of healthy adults. In that case, the correlation between the levels of that protein and muscle strength and other functional indicators was not confirmed. However, it has been found that its levels decrease with age, starting from the age of 50. Therefore, more than a long-lived protein, the decline of this protein group could constitute a useful and early warning signal for pathologies linked to old age which usually begin to appear after the age of 50.

It is known for certain that it activates the production of antioxidant enzymes by counteracting free radicals, and therefore intervenes in slowing down cellular senescence. And also that regulates, among other things, the calcium metabolism. But its levels decrease with age and the investigations of recent years, in addition to a better understanding of its mechanisms and characteristics such as those dating back to 2018, aim to understand how to stimulate its production. In many cases simply suggesting a balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle, little stress and regular exercise. However, the picture is still complicated, the research is in its infancy and such a clear and linear relationship cannot yet be clearly traced.

Source: Vanity Fair

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