Carnosine and Anti-ageing Effects

It is amazing that such a small dipeptide molecule can have such a big role in the rejuvenation of the organism.

It is interesting that there was a rumour that Boris Yeltsin had taken for a long time ” Russian-super-vitamin ” – carnosine, and therefore looked 10 years younger.

L-carnosine has the remarkable ability to rejuvenate old cells and cells in the ageing process and make them fully functional and healthy. Before there were known the results of research on carnosine, it was assumed that the old cells cannot be rejuvenated. Recent studies have shown that carnosine increases the time between cell divisions, and at the same time increases the number of divisions. This means that the life of the cell is significantly extended, and the dependence is direct – more carnosine, the longer time period between the divisions and a greater number of divisions.

Numerous studies show that carnosine has great potential in the fight against ageing because of its extraordinary ability to protect and extend the functional viability of key units that build the organism, such as cells, DNA, and lipids. Carnosine may rightly be called longevity substance. Given that this substance is absolutely safe, it is found naturally in the organism and food, and it was confirmed that prolongs the life of animals and cultures of human cell, it is considered a fundamental substance for prolonging life. Its antioxidant, protective, chelating and anti-glycation activities contribute to the normal cell functioning.

The characteristic of carnosine to slow down the ageing process is not only a consequence of its antioxidant action. Another mechanism by which carnosine protects cells from oxidative stress is the ability to build the chelating agent, which was explained by the team of Professor Bruce N. Ames from Berkeley University in Los Angeles. Chelate formations with heavy metals – such as cadmium, copper, iron, mercury – prevent the participation of these metals in harmful reactions with peroxides.

The latest studies show that patients who take carnosine for a certain time (6 to 12 months), look younger than before use. This supports the results of laboratory research and other experiments, which show that carnosine can rejuvenate cell culture as well as to suppress the visible signs of ageing of living organisms (laboratory animals). During these examinations, carnosine significantly delayed the development of skin wrinkles in the eye area, the curvature of the spine, typical manifestations of ageing. Moreover, not only the mice who received carnosine looked younger compared to those in the control group (non- carnosine), but they were also reaching a 20% longer lifetime.

It is possible to explain anti-ageing effects by comparing the action of the pure carnosine and products of carnosine degradation in the bloodstream, which is provided by specific carnosinase enzyme resulting in accumulation of histidine and β-alanine. In order to prove these differences, other living organisms were used in the following experiments where Drosophila melanogaster was used, which possess no carnosine metabolizing enzymes. In these experiments similar and even stronger life-sustaining effects of carnosine were demonstrated where carnosinase was not present. This suggests that carnosine itself (not the products of its enzymatic degradation) demonstrates apparent life-sustaining action. In conclusion, the use of a natural anti-oxidant and anti-glycating agent carnosine can open the new strategy in modern geroprotection.

Replication capabilities and the number of cell divisions are reducing as cells are ageing. Shortening of DNA telomere happens in each division (telomere = marginal DNA complex with a protein that protects the edges of chromosomes). This shortening of the DNA after each division causes the formation of the so-called signal of the destruction of DNA (DNA-damage signal) and at a given moment is activated p53 (a tumour protein). Some types of chemotherapy induce premature ageing like cancer, but also healthy cells. In contrast, carnosine has a strong ability to reverse the signs of ageing of skin cells (fibroblasts) and to return their functionality, along with an extension of their lives. Such effects are typical effects of carnosine and are used for the prevention of all forms of harmful changes in the protein molecules and phospholipids, also for a significant limitation of DNA telomere shortening in order to prevent damage to DNA. The limit of the number of cell divisions is called Hayflick limit. This is the maximum number of cell divisions that occur before its destruction. Hayflick limit refers to cell mortality. In fact, most of the cells are regenerated when each of the division splits into two daughter cells. When cells reach Hayflick limit, it comes to the ageing of the cell. Cells that age are still alive, but are no longer able to perform division. Their structure and function are damaged.

Human fibroblasts are very suitable for cultivation and laboratory research. Elderly fibroblast culture cannot be replaced by younger ones, which are quite aligned and form groups of parallel fibres. In contrast, the old fibroblasts are granulated, of different sizes, not grouped and their fibres are irregular and of different sizes – they lose the ability to build the correct form. These important characteristics of the old cells are called adult phenotype (while the young cells represent juvenile phenotype). Under the guidance of a doctor McFarland, the Australian scientist, are conducting a remarkable series of experiments which demonstrated that carnosine rejuvenates ageing cells. Especially interesting is the following – when the ageing cells are placed in a culture enriched by carnosine, they show not only phenotypic changes from the old to the young, but increase their ability to the division. They have once again proved their ability to organize, become aligned and build an organized group of fibres. When they return to a culture of non-carnosine, the signs of ageing return quickly. When the same cells are placed again in a culture with carnosine, they show features of the juvenile phenotype again.

This was repeated with the same cells many times and always showed the same results. Moreover, carnosine significantly extended the life of old cells. Later, these experiments were confirmed by the British scientists led by Dr. Alan Hipkiss.

Carnosine delays the ageing process in the culture of human fibroblasts and can change the adult phenotype in juvenile phenotype. Regardless of the positive qualities of antioxidants to eliminate free radicals, they have never shown the ability to prevent ageing as carnosine has. These are just combined, additional features of carnosine in action on the ageing process. In particular, it is noted that carnosine is capable to react with carbonyl groups and to form a “carnozinilation” polypeptides (adducts), which suppresses the ageing process and reduces the formations of damaged proteins, which are typical for these processes.

Revitalizing effect of carnosine on fibroblasts also explains why is significantly improved wound healing after surgical intervention.

The ageing cells also produce adhesion molecules that cause thickening of the walls of blood vessels and their stiffness (atherosclerosis). The ageing cells produce other additional degradative enzymes and anti-inflammatory cytokines, which act in distant parts of the body (they are transported through the blood). In this way, a relatively small amount of aged cells cause large changes in the function and integrity of the skin. The ageing cells accumulate in all organs and tissues where they suffer apoptosis (programmed cell death) and summon the degenerative processes of ageing. Moreover, the distortion of the microscopic environment by accumulated ageing cells can be the reason for the increased incidence of malignant disease in older people.