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High blood pressure drug called 'rilmenidine' dramatically slows aging in animals

In the quest to extend human lifespan and improve overall health, scientists have been searching for effective anti-aging interventions. They may have found one by accident. A drug used for high blood pressure, known as rilmenidine, may also be effective in slowing the aging process.

While caloric restriction has been considered the most robust method to promote longevity across species, its mixed results and side effects in humans have led researchers to explore alternative solutions.

Rilmenidine: Potential game-changer in the fight against aging

Researchers from ETH Zürich, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Liverpool, led by Professor João Pedro Magalhães, have found that rilmenidine, an antihypertensive medication, can extend lifespan and slow aging in animals.

The study demonstrates that treating animals with rilmenidine at both young and older ages increases lifespan and improves health markers, mimicking the effects of caloric restriction.

Professor Magalhães, now based at the University of Birmingham, emphasized the significance of these findings, stating, “With a global aging population, the benefits of delaying aging, even if slightly, are immense.”

Role of the I1-imidazoline receptor

The researchers also discovered that the healthspan and lifespan benefits of rilmenidine treatment in the roundworm C. elegans are mediated by the I1-imidazoline receptor nish-1.

This identification of nish-1 as a potential longevity target opens up new avenues for future research and drug development.

I1-imidazoline receptors are a family of receptors that bind to imidazoline compounds and are involved in various physiological processes.

These receptors are found in both invertebrates and vertebrates, including humans. They are distinct from alpha-2 adrenergic receptors, although some imidazoline compounds can bind to both receptor types.

I1-imidazoline receptors are located in the central nervous system, particularly in the brainstem and hypothalamus, as well as in peripheral tissues such as the kidneys, pancreas, and adipose tissue. They play a role in regulating blood pressure, insulin secretion, and lipid metabolism.

I1-Imidazoline receptors are the unsung heroes of physiology

Several studies have investigated the potential therapeutic applications of targeting I1-imidazoline receptors. For example, some research suggests that activating these receptors may have antidepressant effects and could be useful in treating depression and anxiety disorders.

Other studies have explored the role of I1-imidazoline receptors in regulating glucose homeostasis and their potential as targets for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

However, much remains to be discovered about the specific functions and mechanisms of I1-imidazoline receptors in different species and their potential as therapeutic targets.

Further research is needed to fully understand the role of these receptors in various physiological processes and to develop targeted therapies that can harness their potential for treating a range of conditions, including aging-related diseases.

Anti-aging advantages of rilmenidine

One of the key advantages of rilmenidine is its potential for future translatability to humans. Unlike other drugs previously studied for anti-aging purposes, rilmenidine is a widely-prescribed, oral antihypertensive medication with rare and non-severe side effects.

This makes it a more feasible and safer option for human use compared to caloric restriction, which has shown mixed results and side effects in human studies.

Untapped potential of drug repurposing

Professor Magalhães highlighted the immense potential of repurposing drugs for extending lifespan and healthspan, stating, “Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and healthspan has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience.”

This study marks the first time rilmenidine has been shown to increase lifespan in animals, paving the way for further exploration of its potential clinical applications.

Promising step towards healthier aging

This study on rilmenidine, led by Professor João Pedro Magalhães, offers a glimmer of hope in the search for effective anti-aging interventions.

By demonstrating rilmenidine’s ability to extend lifespan and improve health markers in animals, the researchers have unlocked a potential game-changer in the field of geroscience.

As they continue to explore the drug’s mechanisms and potential clinical applications, the prospect of repurposing this widely-prescribed antihypertensive medication for healthier aging becomes increasingly tangible.

With further research and development, rilmenidine could pave the way for a new era of accessible and effective anti-aging solutions, bringing us one step closer to the dream of a longer, healthier life.

The full study was published in the journal Aging Cell.


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