Blue California’s ErgoActive® Ergothioneine Promotes Longevity Marker in Human Cells
Telomeres, the protective caps at the end of DNA strands called chromosomes, are critical for the life of cells. Their length is a proxy for the aging of cells — the shorter the telomere, the older the cell—and is tied to many age-related chronic conditions. For these reasons, the race is on to figure out how to preserve telomeres.
And one provider and manufacturer of ingredients used in various types of products including dietary supplements may have a horse in the running. For the first time, Blue California published a study demonstrating that ErgoActive® ergothioneine, a natural antioxidant, preserved telomere length and reduced the rate of telomere shortening in human cells. These results suggest that ergothioneine could be used for anti-aging.
Telomeres — Protectors of the Genome
Humans are complex organisms made of tens of trillions of cells, and many of these cells are replaced daily with replicates of themselves. Every time our cells divide, our DNA gets duplicated so that each cell can get a copy of the instructions to create and maintain life. Thread-like structures called chromosomes help ensure that DNA is split up evenly during cell division.
But our DNA doesn’t get perfectly replicated every time. When our DNA is copied, the ends of the stringy chromosomes get shorter and some DNA is lost. Organisms from yeast to humans have created a strategy to protect the essential blueprint encoded in our DNA called telomeres, repetitive stretches of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that don’t carry any essential genetic information. Telomeres act like protective caps that get whittled down with each cell division, preventing the rest of the DNA from getting lost.
Yet this phenomenon of telomere shortening is linked to aging and age-related diseases. What’s more, oxidative stress and inflammation can accelerate telomere shortening, making our cells age faster and our bodies more susceptible to age-related diseases. So, does this mean that antioxidants can mitigate these effects to support our protective telomeres and promote healthy aging and longevity?
Is ergothioneine a means to healthy aging?
Ergothioneine is synthesized exclusively by fungi and bacteria. But, for most people, the dietary consumption of foods rich in ergothioneine tends to be low. It can also be readily produced either by fermentation or synthetically. Ergothioneine produced via fermentation has been recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority, and the synthetic form has novel food status in Europe.
In mammals, ergothioneine is obtained through the diet and can be found in trace amounts in a wide variety of foods, though higher levels can be found in certain species of mushrooms, black and red beans, organ meats, and oat bran. Ergothioneine is readily absorbed and retained in plasma and whole blood in response to oral supplementation. This begs the question: can ergothioneine promote healthy aging?
Indicators of healthy aging found in ergothioneine telomere study
These researchers used human muscle cells that were then cultured in lab dishes with ergothioneine. Because ergothioneine has well-known antioxidant properties, and oxidative stress is known to accelerate telomere shortening, testing was conducted under both standard and oxidative conditions.
Under oxidative conditions, ergothioneine treatment resulted in significantly longer median telomere length and significantly reduced the percentage of short telomeres for all treatment concentrations after 8 weeks. Telomere shortening rate was also reduced. Treatment with ergothioneine increased the relative activity of telomerase.
“Many areas of health are impacted by oxidative stress during aging, including longevity, bone health, cardiovascular health, cognition, and skin vitality," said Blue California Chief Science Officer, Dr. Priscilla Samuel. "As oxidative stress accelerates the shortening of telomeres, antioxidants such as ergothioneine may help to decelerate it.”
Source: Blue California
Ergothioneine clinical trials are coming
"Our results suggest that ergothioneine as part of a healthy diet could potentially mitigate the negative effects of oxidative stress and support healthy aging by helping to preserve telomere length and reduce the rate of shortening," said Dr. Samuel.
While these data on ergothioneine are promising, they are limited because the experiments were done in human cells in a dish and not in living human beings. "Blue California actively invests in clinical studies to advance the science and impact of our ErgoActive ergothioneine on overall health and wellness and look forward to investigating these effects in human clinical studies as well," said Dr. Samuel.
Samuel P, Tsapekos M, de Pedro N, Liu AG, Casey Lippmeier J, Chen S. Ergothioneine Mitigates Telomere Shortening under Oxidative Stress Conditions. J Diet Suppl. 2020 Dec 7:1-14. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2020.1854919.