Statins Combat Aging By Protecting Against Telomere Shortening

First Posted: Aug 31, 2013 04:56 AM EDT

Statins, the popular cholesterol lowering drug, may combat aging by reducing the rate at which telomeres shorten, an important factor in the aging process.

The latest finding, reported in THE FASEB journal, suggests that the drug statins not only extends life by lowering the cholesterol levels and cutting the risks of cardiovascular disease but it combats aging by protecting against telomere shortening. This new finding has implications for anti aging therapy with statins and its derivatives.

"By telomeres activation, statins may represent a new molecular switch able to slow down senescent cells in our tissues and be able to lead healthy lifespan extension," said Giuseppe Paolisso, M.D., Ph.D., Second University of Naples in Naples, Italy.

A whopping percentage of U.S. adults above the age of 45 depend on statins and its use is on the rise. The researchers conducted a study on two sets of people in which the first group was restricted to chronic statin therapy and the second group was the control group. On measuring the telomeres activity in both the groups, the researchers noticed that compared to the control group the group that took statin treatment had higher telomerese activity within the white blood cells and this was linked to telomeres shortening with aging.

This finding highlights the role of telomeres activation in avoiding the excessive build up of short telomeres.

"The great thing about statins is that they reduce risks for cardiovascular disease significantly and are generally safe for most people. The bad thing is that statins do have side effects, like muscle injury," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. "But if it is confirmed that statins might actually slow aging itself-and not just the symptoms of aging-then statins are much more powerful drugs than we ever thought."

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