Anti-Aging Potential for Kidneys
As the world's population of older adults continues to grow, there is a need for a better understanding of aging processes to mitigate age-related diseases and disorders. But not all organs age at the same pace, so it's important for scientists to characterize aging processes for each organ. Researchers have found that NMN has the potential to restore youthful kidney protein levels in aged mice, which may translate therapeutically to humans.
NMN Potential For Kidneys
Recently, a team of researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing published a study on the effects of aging within cells. In their study, they specifically looked at how aged kidneys respond to the administration of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). What they found was that NMN helps to restore protein balance—proteostasis. By understanding more about how the aging process works within kidney cells, we can develop better therapeutic options moving forward.
Older People are More Susceptible to Kidney Disease
The decline of kidney function with age includes changes to the glomerulus, which is the cellular unit that filters waste products from the blood. Since there is a progressive decline in waste filtration rate with age, this ultimately leads to loss of kidney function. This then makes it more difficult for kidneys to recover after an injury since older people are more susceptible to suffering from kidney disease and injuries.
To examine the potential of NMN in combating age-related organ deterioration, Deng and his research team chose to study its effects on kidney function. This is because prior studies have suggested that taking NMN supplements may improve general age-related organ functions. As many of you probably already know, NMN is a key ingredient in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ plays an important role in cellular energy production as well as maintaining DNA integrity.
NMN is being tested for its ability to increase NAD+ levels in the blood and various tissues of aging people, as it has already been shown to do in aged rodents. A decline in NAD+ levels has been linked with age-related organ functional decline, including kidney dysfunction.
Biomarkers that can Reveal the Age of Kidneys
To find protein kidney aging biomarkers, Deng and his cohorts compared the proteins of young (8 weeks old) to aged (96 weeks old) mice kidneys, ending with 7,208 options. After narrowing it down by only looking at proteins present in blood or urine and also found in kidney tissue, they were left with a more manageable 27 biomarkers.
NMN Injections Restore Youthful Protein Levels
The scientists injected aged mice with NMN every two days for four weeks, which restored proteins toward youthful levels. Of the 27 biomarkers, NMN supplementation reduced 16 of 19 of the proteins that increased with aging and increased six out of eight proteins with reduced levels in aging--all indications that NMN could restore kidney function back to normalcy.
The team found that peroxisomes significantly decreased in number with age, but NMN supplementation efficiently increased peroxisome numbers. In total, this suggests that NMN may protect against kidney injuries by breaking down waste products in cells.
“We identified a set of proteins that were differentially expressed in young and aged mouse kidneys and might thus serve as biomarkers for renal aging,” stated Deng and colleagues in their publication. “In addition, our results showed that aging caused a reduction in peroxisomes, and that NMN administration restored the peroxisome homeostasis, suggesting NMN supplementation might be beneficial for kidney health.” The data from this study provides valuable information regarding changes in protein composition in the kidneys as we age. Additionally, this research confirms that proteomics—the large-scale study of proteins—is a powerful tool for studying aging processes.
The direction of Research on Aging Kidneys
We will need to examine in the future whether the 27 biomarkers identified here show changes with age in people. If that is so, it would mean analyses of mouse proteins for aging could be useful for human research. We will also need to see if NMN has similar effects on peroxisome numbers and cell protection from injury and disease in aging people as well.