One of the most exciting strategies to delay age-related disease and lengthen healthy lifespan is to target a fundamental process of aging called cellular senescence.
Several plant compounds are being investigated to slow this process. However, the most promising by far is derived from grape seed extract.
Tested in elderly mice, the results were extraordinary, extending their lives by over 60 percent.
After the age of 60 we start to develop senescent cells. These cells – also called “zombie” cells – stop dividing and lose function. But instead of being cleared away, they hang around, releasing toxins and promoting inflammation.
Senescent cells have been implicated in arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks, strokes and more. Drugs designed to clear these cells are called senolytics.
Not surprisingly, some plant compounds also have senolytic activity. Previous research has identified these as quercetin, fisetin, curcumin and piperlongumine.
Previous research has also shown that a treatment called DQ, which combines a cancer chemotherapy drug with quercetin, was shown to improve the health of mice and lengthen their lives by 36 percent. But even this impressive result is outshone by the latest senolytic recently tested in a laboratory study.
Anti-Aging Capacity of Grape Seed Extract is “Striking”
For the new study, researchers from the U.S. and China collaborated to conduct extensive tests to determine which plant extract performed best at flushing out senescent cells.
After screening 46 extracts the one that stood out was grape seed extract (GSE), which had been largely unexplored as a senolytic.
In their study, published in the journal Nature Metabolism in December 2021, the scientists wrote that “GSE is a natural product that holds the potential to control the pro-inflammatory profile of senescent cells.” They added that “its geroprotective [anti-aging] capacity appeared particularly striking.”
But GSE contains many chemicals, so the scientists conducted further tests to find out if one or more was responsible for its senolytic activity. They discovered a chemical called procyanidin C1 (PCC1).
Could Give us Another Seven Years of Life
Lab tests showed that PCC1 lowered senescent cells in human prostate tissue. Further tests found that even at a low dose it could prevent senescent cells from causing inflammation. At higher doses PCC1 killed senescent cells outright leaving healthy cells unharmed.
For the next stage of the research, the team injected PCC1 into 91 mice aged between 24 and 27 months, the human equivalent of being between the ages of 75 and 90. The PCC1increased the overall lifespan of the mice by 9.4 percent – equivalent to 7.5 human years. What’s more, the treatment increased the remainder of their lives by 64.2 percent.
In younger mice given PCC1 researchers also observed positive physical changes. For one thing, the animal’s physical fitness improved over the four-month study period.
What’s more, in mice with cancerous tumors, PCC1, together with a chemotherapy drug, resulted in a significant reduction in the number of senescent cells compared with using the drug alone. The combination also shrunk the tumors and prolonged survival of the mice by nearly 50 percent compared to using the chemo drug on its own.
At the conclusion of their comprehensive analysis the authors wrote that “even when administered in late life, such a therapeutic modality holds prominent potential to remarkably delay age-related dysfunction, reduce age-related diseases and enhance health conditions, thus providing a new avenue to improve healthspan and lifespan in future geriatric medicine.”
The scientific investigation into PCC1 is still in very early days, but I’m not surprised this compound is showing such promise. I’ve long read about the positive health benefits of grapeseed extract from fighting inflammation to improving heart health. I look forward to following the science on this new grapeseed compound and letting you know what I discover.