MOTS-c – The Fountain of Youth Protein
When I think of longevity a couple of movies come to mind. Cocoon and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button cover this theme in different ways.
Or a quick history lesson takes us back to Ponce de Leon and the search for the fountain of youth.
Researchers at USC may have found the protein that confers anti-aging benefits.
The protein is MOTS-c and is a mitochondrial protein. Mitochonria can thought of as the powerhouse of the cell and are responsible much of our cellular energy. MOTS-c acts by heping promote metabolism amd maintaining homeostasis.
In human when we exercise we see the level of MOTS-c is elevated almost 12x and remains elevated for up to four hours post-exercise.
What the research team at USC did was inject MOTS-c into mice of various ages and then measure their speed and agility, among other things. For mice, young is considered 2 months old, 12 months is middle age and old is 22 months.
The researchers injected the mice three times per week and had them perform a running test. The mice would warm-up for 5 minutes at 13 metres per minute. After five minutes the speed was increased one metre per minute for five minutes to reach 18 metres per minute. The mice then ran for up to 30 minutes at a top speed of 23 metres per minute.
What they found is the older mice i.e. 22 months old, were able to keep up and outrun the young and middle aged mice. As well, the older mice were more sure-footed compared to the younger mice.
This is encouraging and it appears MOTS-c may play a role in healthy aging. It helped with the metabolic fitness and physical capacity of the mice in this study. And MOTS-c was also able to reverse diet induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice as well.
While we shouldn’t expect the same results in humans as in mice this is more support regarding the importance of maintaining fitness and training as we age. This will not only allow us to have more years but a better quality of life with the years we add.
Reynolds, J. C., Lai, R. W., Woodhead, J. S., Joly, J. H., Mitchell, C. J., Cameron-Smith, D., & Lee, C. (2021). MOTS-c is an exercise-induced mitochondrial-encoded regulator of age-dependent physical decline and muscle homeostasis. Nature Communications, 12(1), 1-11.