The hope of an increased life expectancy has been made possible with an 'elixir of life', concocted by scientists.
A new study has found that when mice are given drinking water laced with a special concoction of amino acids, they live longer than average mouse.
The key ingredients in the supplemental mixture are so-called branched-chain amino acids, which account for 3 of the 20 amino acids (specifically leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that are the building blocks of proteins.
"This is the first demonstration that an amino acid mixture can increase survival in mice," said Enzo Nisoli of Milan University in Italy, noting that researchers last year showed that leucine, isoleucine, and valine extend the life span of single-celled yeast.
In the new study, the researchers gave middle-aged, male mice extra branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) in their drinking water. The animals were otherwise healthy and eating standard mouse chow.
Animals that were given the extra amino acids over a period of months lived longer, with a median life span of 869 days compared to 774 days for untreated control animals, the researchers report. That's an increase of 12 percent.
Those survival gains were accompanied by an increase in mitochondria in cardiac and skeletal muscles. Mitochondria are the cellular components responsible for powering cells. The supplement-fed mice also showed increased activity of SIRT1, a well-known longevity gene, and of the defense system that combats free radicals. They therefore showed fewer signs of oxidative damage.
The report has been published in the October issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication.