Anti-Aging Compound, Urolithin A from Pomegranates Shows Positive Results In Human Trial
Pomegranate, a fruit famous for its health benefits, contains phytochemicals called ellagitannins. When ingested, these molecules are converted into a compound called urolithin A (UA) in the human gut. Researchers from the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and also from EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) found that UA can slow down the mitochondrial aging process. However not everyone is able to produces UA naturally and external supplementation is needed.
Skeletal muscles begin to lose strength and mass once a person reaches the age of 50. A recent clinical trial showed that urolithin A, a compound derived from biomolecules found in fruits such as pomegranates, could slow down this process by improving the functioning of mitochondria, the cells' powerhouses
The trial with 60 senior patients, all sedentary but in good health, involved taking single doses of between 250 and 2,000 mg of UA that was synthesized by the researchers. The team observed no side effects when compared with the control group, who were given a placebo product. The patients were then split into four groups, each receiving a placebo, or a 250, 500 or 1,000 mg daily dose of UA for a further 28 days. No adverse effects were found, even after prolonged ingestion. The research team then analyzed the efficacy of UA by looking at cellular and mitochondrial health biomarkers in the patients' blood and muscle tissue. The results were encouraging: UA stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, the process by which cells increase mitochondrial mass, in the same way as regular exercise.
Urolithin A is the only known compound that reignites the cells' ability to recycle defective mitochondria. In young people, this process happens naturally. But as we age, the body starts to lose its power to clean up damaged mitochondria, causing sarcopenia or loss of skeletal mass, and the weakening of other tissues. The researchers focused on slowing and even reversing, this natural effect of aging.
The results of the trail showed that the compound was safe to ingest and procedures are underway to bring the synthesized product to the market.
Professor Johan Auwerx from the EPFL Lab who was involved in the trail commented to Thailand Medical News in a phone interview, "These latest findings, which build on previous preclinical trials, really prove how UA could be a game-changer for human health. A study published in 2016 showed that the lifespan of nematode worms exposed to UA increased by 45 percent, when compared with the control group. Likewise, other animal models showed 40 percent better endurance while running after two weeks of treatment with UA supplementation. Urolithin A may thus have even more benefits for human health.”
Reference : Pénélope A. Andreux et al. The mitophagy activator urolithin A is safe and induces a molecular signature of improved mitochondrial and cellular health in humans, Nature Metabolism (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s42255-019-0073-4