Three amino acids and selenium supplementation prevents age-related muscle breakdown
Supplementation with selenium and the amino acids cystine, glycine and glutamine prevents age-related muscle breakdown in lab animals, conclude researchers at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Do we believe it or not? The results seem to too good to be true, even for an animal study.
The supplement that the researchers tried out was ProImmune. [proimmuneco.com] ProImmune is a patented [US RE42645 E1] blend of amino acids and selenium intended to boost the concentration of glutathione in the cells. A half gram of ProImmune contains about 100 mg cystine [not cysteine], 199 mg glycine, 199 mg glutamine and 1.5 mg selenomethionine.
According to the patent the recommended daily dose for humans is 200 mg. This dosage, for the amino acids, is improbably low.
The amino acids in ProImmune are the building blocks that make up the protective tripeptide glutathione. Protective enzymes need glutathione to be able to function. A number of these enzymes contain selenium.
The researchers gave laboratory mice aged 17 months – in human age they would be in their fifties – feed that contained 3 mg ProImmune per kg for six months.
Mice of the same age in the control group were given standard food, with no additions.
At the end of the six months the mice had become old. When the researchers compared the muscle mass of the old mice with the muscle mass of young mice [Young], they noticed that the mice that had been given ProImmune [Old + F1] had lost noticeably less muscle mass than the mice in the control group [Old].
When the researchers counted the number of dying cells in the mice's muscles they found large numbers in the old mice that had not been given a supplement. In the old mice that had been given ProImmune with their food, the number of dead cells was even less than in the young mice, as the figure on the right shows.
The figure below shows that the supplement had indeed reduced the decline in concentration of active glutathione due to aging. Moreover, the researchers also found less of the inflammatory protein interleukin-6 in the blood of Old+F1 mice than in the old mice that had not been given a supplement.
The figure above shows that the supplement boosted the activity of the anabolic signal molecule Akt, and increased the concentration of Delta-1. Delta-1 is a protein that tells stem cells to develop into muscle cells.
The supplement also boosted the amount of active AMPK in the mice's muscles. As a result of this the muscles remained sensitive to insulin and maintained the extraction of nutrients from the blood. And because the supplement inhibited the enzyme FAS, the muscles didn't convert the nutrients into intra-muscular fat.
Supplements that prevent the glutathione concentration from declining as a result of aging might actually delay aging processes, the researchers suspect. They therefore argue in favour of human studies being done. What works in mice doesn't always work in humans.
The creator of ProImmune, Albert Crum, was one of the authors of the study. However, his company didn't sponsor the study. The researchers obtained their money from the American Federation of Aging Research [afar.org] and the US government.
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013 Jul;68(7):749-59.
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