Common Blood Pressure Drug Increases Lifespan And Slows Aging in Animals : ScienceAlert

The blood pressure medication rilmenidine has been shown to slow the aging of worms, an effect that in humans could hypothetically help us live longer and stay healthier in our later years. .

Previous research has shown that rilmenidine mimics the effects of calorie restriction at the cellular level. Reducing available energy while maintaining nutrition in the body has been shown to extend lifespan in several animal models.

Whether this translates to human biology or is a potential risk to our health is a topic of ongoing debate. Finding ways to get the same benefits without the costs of extreme calorie reduction could lead to new ways to improve older adults’ health.

In a study published in January, young and old Caenorhabditis elegans Worms treated with the drug – which is normally used to treat high blood pressure – lived longer and had higher measurements in a variety of health markers similar to calorie restriction, scientists report. had hoped.

“For the first time, we were able to show in animals that rilmenidine can increase lifespan,” said molecular biogerontologist João Pedro Magalhães, from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

“We now want to explore whether rilmenidine could have other clinical applications.”

THE C. elegans The worm is a favorite for studies because many of its genes have similarities to their counterparts in our genome. Yet, despite these similarities, it is still a fairly distant relationship with humans.

Further tests showed that genetic activity associated with calorie restriction could be observed in the kidney and liver tissues of the rilmenidine-treated mice. In other words, some of the changes brought about by calorie restriction in animals that are thought to confer certain health benefits also appear with a blood pressure medication that many people already take.

Another discovery was that a biological signaling receptor called nish-1 was crucial in the effectiveness of rilmenidine. This particular chemical structure could be targeted in future attempts to improve lifespan and slow aging.

“We found that the effects of rilmenidine on lifespan were abolished when nish-1 was deleted,” the researchers explain in their article. “It is critical that rescue of the nish-1 receptor restored the increase in lifespan after rilmenidine treatment.”

Low-calorie diets are difficult to follow and cause various side effects, such as hair loss, dizziness, and brittle bones. It’s still early, but it’s believed that this blood pressure medication could provide the same benefits as a low-calorie diet while being gentler on the body.

What makes rilmenidine a promising candidate as an anti-aging drug is that it can be taken orally, it is already widely prescribed, and its side effects are rare and relatively mild (they include palpitations, insomnia and drowsiness in some cases).

There is still a long way to go to determine whether rilmenidine would work as an anti-aging drug in humans, but early signs from these tests in worms and mice are promising. We now know a lot more about the possible effects of rilmenidine and how it works.

“With an aging global population, the benefits of delaying aging, even slightly, are immense,” Magalhães said.

The research was published in Aging cell.

An earlier version of this article was published in January 2023.

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