Viral infections, anemia or leukemia, and tumors are often more likely to occur in the elderly, which is closely related to the low function of the immune system associated with age.
There are various types of blood cells in the immune system, which are the main force in maintaining health. However, the "source" of all types of blood cells - hematopoietic stem cells that provide fresh blood to the body, gradually lose their ability to regenerate with age. Not only that, but the production performance of hematopoietic stem cells can be out of balance, showing a preference for making specific types of cells, such as myeloid cells. These can lead to immune system dysfunction.
Because of this, it is very important to help aging hematopoietic stem cells rejuvenate and improve immune function if they want to delay aging, prevent and resist various elderly diseases. However, there is currently a lack of effective methods to reverse the aging of hematopoietic stem cells.
In Nature Aging, a sub-journal of Nature that focuses on research related to aging biology, a recent research paper proposed a solution that can help hematopoietic stem cells and the immune system "return to youth."
In this paper, researchers from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland found that the abnormal accumulation of damaged mitochondria in hematopoietic stem cells is an important factor in the decline of their hematopoietic ability. Therefore, improving the status of cell mitochondria can help hematopoietic stem cells restore hematopoietic function.
Fortunately, scientists have already discovered a substance in animal experiments that can improve the status of cell mitochondria: urolithin A. Some research evidence suggests that urolithin A helps promote the recycling and renewal process of mitochondria.
Urolithin A cannot be obtained directly through food, but after we ingest ellagitannins and ellagic acid, these two substances will be converted into urolithin A through human intestinal metabolism. Ellagitannins and ellagic acid are abundant in berries and nuts such as pomegranates, blueberries, and walnuts. In other words, we can still supplement urolithin A to a certain extent through these foods to help improve mitochondrial function.
In addition, urolithin A can also be directly supplemented through dietary supplements. In the experiment, the researchers provided urolithin A oral supplements to elderly mice and observed that their hematopoietic systems were rejuvenated. With the improvement of hematopoietic function, the immune function of the elderly mice also improved, making them more resistant to viral infections.
It is worth mentioning that some previous studies have found through animal experiments that supplementing urolithin A can also help restore muscle function, which is also important in resisting aging. However, these findings obtained in animal experiments need to be further verified through clinical trials to further verify the benefits to human health.