Rapamycin has extraordinary properties that can help halt neurologic damage like Alzheimer's disease, says a new study.
Viviana Perez, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in OSU's College of Science and an expert on the biological processes of aging who also serves as principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute, said this might offer novel treatment options for neurologic disease.
Perez explained that, Rapamycin seemed to stop cellular senescence a stage where the cells become old, does not proliferate and start secreting damaging substances that can result to inflammation.
During senescence, the secretion of damaging compounds forms a toxic environment known as senescence-associated secretory phenotype, or SASP. This damages the cellular microenvironment and changes the capability of adjacent cells to work properly, losing their tissue function and structure. This large process is eventually related to aging.
Increased cellular senescence related to aging and the inflammation connected with that can lead to various degenerative disease like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and neurologic disease including Alzheimer's or dementia. In animal experiments when we remove senescent cells, the animals have smaller number of diseases and live longer. Rapamycin can have same effects, Perez said.
Rapamycin and Aging
Previously, it had been believed that rapamycin had only one mechanism of action that is to increase Nrf2 action. Nrf2 is the master regulator which activate up to 200 genes associated with detoxification of carcinogens, cell repair, antioxidant protection, protein and lipid metabolism and other factors. But in this study, rapamycin helped in reducing levels of SASP. This study concluded that level of SASP is directly affected by rapamycin, individually from the Nrf2 pathway.
Any novel way to help avoid neuron's damage could be helpful. According to other studies, astrocyte cells could help in protecting neuron function and health may be damaged by SASP. This can be one the reasons of certain neurologic diseases like Alzheimer's disease, Perez explained.
Rapamycin can help to prevent SASP-associated cellular damage by two pathways: by involving Nrf2 and directly. Because of these beneficial effects, rapamycin will keep on generating interest in solving aging related issues.
Written by Lax Mariappan Msc