It is generally recognised that many disease processes, as well as the process of natural ageing, are caused by the formation of free radicals, a by-product of oxidation within the cells of our several body tissues.
What is not well known is that another process, which irreversibly alters the normal configuration of proteins in the human body, is also at work initiating pathological processes that culminate in chronic disease, premature ageing, or even premature death.
This destructive process is a natural and inevitable fact of chronological ageing, taking its toll on the structural integrity of our bones, brain, eyes, tendons, organs and skin, threatening at the same time the functional integrity of our complex enzyme systems which maintain our life sustaining biochemical interactions.
Any method, therefore, that can interrupt or modify this destructive process will inevitably inhibit
the mechanisms of injury to human cells and body tissues, and minimise the risks for disease
or premature ageing, and even extend the span of human life. Is this possible?
AGES : (Advanced Glycation End Products)
When we understand more clearly the process whereby ageing takes place, and identify the tools that may be harnessed to interrupt the process of ageing, we will be better positioned to modify, or even halt, the pathological changes that lead to chronic disease and premature death.
Scientists are in agreement that most age related diseases, or chronic systemic diseases, are the product of tissue damage caused either by oxidative stress, or by a process called glycation, or a combination of both.
GLYCATION AND AGES :
Glycation is a non-enzyme reaction between proteins and sugars in the human body, which irreversibly alters the configuration of proteins, through “cross linking”, leading to organ derangement. These “cross linked” events may occur in any organ, and as a consequence may result in cataracts (1) or devastating neurological conditions, such as Alzheimers disease (2), cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke, kidney disorders (3) and even cancer.
A similar process underlies the onset and development of diabetes, in which lipid-glycation occurs, leading to the formation of AGES and ultimately diabetic and non-diabetic kidney disease. (4)
The glycation process was first noted during the heating of foods in the presence of sugar, and was described as the Maillard reaction. During this unnatural process cross-links between carbohydrates and protein chains occur, causing a derangement of the protein structures, and the formation of what has been described as “advanced glycation end products”, or AGES. These end products have a deleterious effect, both on the structure and function of tissue proteins, thereby violating organ integrity and organ function, leading ultimately to organ failure and inevitably premature death. (5)
Such damage, inflicted on vital organ structures, will inevitably lead to a multiplicity of disease states affecting the eyes, the brain, the heart, the pancreas, the liver, the skin or any other organ targeted by the AGES process.
AGES alone, or in combination with free radicals, are the key cause of degenerative changes in chronic disease, including alzheimers disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several skin cancers.
AGES have been strongly implicated in the initiation and development of pancreatic cancer as far back as 1996 (6), and more recently in skin cancers, including melanoma. (7)
HEALTH WARNINGS :
The bad news is that glycation is an ever present reality in each of our lives at this very minute, posing a constant threat to health, wellness and longevity.
It is the single most destructive biochemical process that is occurring in our bodies, throughout our lives, playing a significant role in the development of age-related complications, and disease states like Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Cataracts and Cancer.
Advanced glycation end products (AGES) occur when proteins and sugars (carbohydrates) become cross linked under conditions of high temperature, during cooking, or in the processing of commercial food products.
The same process occurs when fats and proteins are unnaturally cross-linked during the heating process, causing the formation of advanced lipoxidation end products (ALES).
These toxic substances (glycotoxins) occur during the preparation of foods, or in the processing of food, under high temperature conditions, which in the food manufacturing industry occurs during the flavouring, colouring, and texturing process, designed to extend the shelf life of commercial products.
A large variety of commercially produced foods, such as cola drinks, baked goods, caramel, processed meats, and brewed refreshments, contain glycotoxins.
Any foods, prepared under high temperature conditions, such as broiling, frying, hot oven roasting and barbecuing, are loaded with glycotoxins.
For this reason it is safer and healthier to prepare food at temperatures lower than 120 deg. C (or 250 deg. F) , thereby decreasing the risk of glycotoxin formation, and using preferably the methods of steaming, poaching, braising, stewing and slow cooking.
Since we are never entirely protected from the threats and the risks of glycation and glycotoxin formation, we should be taking precautionary measures to protect our bodies by using detoxifying agents on a daily basis.
Detoxifying agents may be taken in the form of dietary supplements, or as non-transdermal skin patches.
Carnosine non-transdermal patches act as a shield against the formation of glycotoxins within the human cell by inhibiting the “cross-linking” process which initiates the formation of AGES and ALES.
The human body has evolved several defensive mechanisms to counter the threats to tissue and organ integrity. The dipeptide, L-Carnosine is one such defence mechanism that serves to counter the onset of cellular damage and premature aging caused by AGES.
In 1900 Russian scientists identified L-Carnosine, a naturally occurring dipeptide (double amino acid) found in all tissue cells, but mainly in the cells of muscles.
More recently this dipeptide was observed to have uniquely protective properties, empowering tissue cells and allowing them to be rejuvenated and protected against AGES.
L-Carnosine is a naturally occurring “double amino acid” comprised of the two amino acids, beta- alanine and L-histidine, and has the capacity to change itself into a variety of protective functions when required, acting as an anti-oxidant, and detoxifying agent, stabilising and protecting cell membranes and neutralising potential harmful toxins.
L-Carnosine provides protection for cells when threatened by AGES, and can hasten the process of cellular renewal in the event of cellular damage.
Groundbreaking research by the Russian scientist, Sergey Stvolinsky, has yielded powerful evidence for the anti-ageing effects of supplemental Carnosine.
By adding Carnosine to the diet of experimental fruit flies Stvolinsky demonstrated an increase of 20% in the life span of these animals. (8) Their short life-span permits an assessment of their genetic material to great advantage in the study of human longevity.
A 36% increase in life-span for female fruit flies was observed when vitamin C was added to the Carnosine diet. ( 9)
Other researches have identified the protective properties of Carnosine as being a strongly neutralising anti-oxidant in the presence of cardiovascular toxins (ie. smoking ) thereby protecting against atherosclerosis and arterial plaque formation, (thickening of the inner wall of arteries causing lumen blockage ) a risk for either stroke or heart attack. (10)
Carnosine also displays potent anti-glycation properties by preventing the oxidation of LDL- Cholesterol. It is only in the oxidized form that LDL ( the so called “bad cholesterol” ) presents a threat to the integrity of the inner lining of arterial walls. (endothelium). (11)
By preventing the oxidation of LDL, Carnosine plays a protective role against the onset of cardiovascular disease, and also against the onset of diabetes, a condition that compromises the integrity of the arterial walls. (12)
Carnosine also reduces the risk of developing stroke by protecting and preserving brain tissue. (13)
Furthermore, a protective role for Carnosine was observed even after brain tissue had been damaged through oxygen deprivation (ischaemia), its survival advantage being demonstrated in experimental rats following a stroke. (14)
Carnosine was also shown to provide protection for the kidneys by reversing ischaemic injury
(15), with similar beneficial effects for the liver in the presence of liver cell ischaemia.(16)
Since glycation is a significant factor in the onset and development of diabetes, the protective role of Carnosine may be exploited as an effective interventive strategy in diabetic care. Carnosine prevents arterial damage by protecting against the oxidation of LDL (17) and has the capacity to increase the mass of Beta cells in the pancreas, thereby increasing insulin secretion and normalising elevated levels of blood glucose. (18 )
The observations that Carnosine can retard tumour growth (19) and inhibit cancer cell metastases (20) renders it a potentially effective anti-cancer agent, warranting further investigation in this area of therapeutic care.
Its demonstrated ability to reduce DNA damage in cells, and also extend the life-span of laboratory cells, offers hope for its future role as a chemo-protective agent.
The healthy human brain has high levels of Carnosine which serve to protect against neurological disorders like Alzheimers disease and Dementia, (21) utilising its anti-oxidant and anti-glycation properties.
Maintaining high Carnosine levels helps to protect against damage to brain tissue, amyloid plaque formation, and desturbance of neuronal function.
Carnosine maintains healthy brain tissue by neutralising the toxic effects of oxidation and glycation. Since low levels of cellular Carnosine are present in persons with Alzheimers disease and other degenerative disorders, it is likely that improved levels of Carnosine could reverse or retard these processes, or inhibit their onset. (22)
Carnosine can block the accumulation of lactic acid that results from extreme physical exertion, often leading to muscle cramping and pain. Carnosine patches, worn by competitive cyclists, have been shown to reduce pain and improve endurance. (24)
The detoxifying benefits of Carnosine (together with Glutathione) can best be exploited by using transdermal patches that increase cellular production, prior to extreme physical exertion (competitive sport, gymnasium work-outs ) as well as after these events.
SOURCES OF CARNOSINE:
Carnosine is a dipeptide found primarily in red meat. Following ingestion, it is rapidly degraded by the enzyme carnosinase. Maintaining adequate levels of Carnosine will thus require a regular intake of red meat, which is not possible with a vegetarian diet.
Oral supplementation of Carnosine is possible, with doses higher than 500 mg daily not recommended because of the potential for toxocity. It is therefore prudent to allow the cells to maximise their Carnosine production through natural mechanisms. (23)
NON-TRANSDERMAL CARNOSINE PATCHES:
A novel way of obtaining and maintaining adequate and safe levels of intra-cellular Carnosine is via non-transdermal skin patches which stimulate the cellular production of Carnosine, without
the need for dietary or supplemental intake. (24)
Lifewave’s Carnosine skin patches trap infra-red energy when placed on the skin at appropriate sites, and reflect back into the body specific infra-red signals which activate the autonomic nervous system and promotes the required healing of damaged cells to take place .
The natural production of Carnosine can thus take place, without the risks of overdosage and toxicity.
More recently, Carnosine has been shown to protect the telomere caps on DNA strands, thereby preventing their spontaneous shortening, a natural phenomenon associated with the ageing process. (23)
Protected telomeres have been shown to preserve chromosomes and extend life-span. (26) They also reduce the risk of faulty chromosome formation and the resulting physical abnormalities.
By protecting chromosomal telomeres, Carnosine can extend life-span. This longevity phenomenon has been demonstrated in the laboratory by the observed extension of the life-span of cultured foetal lung fibroblast cells. (23)
By exhibiting anti-oxidant and anti-glycation properties, and more recently, life-extension properties, Carnosine has established itself as an effective anti-ageing and youth-preserving agent that holds much promise for the future in the quest for longevity.
Dr. Neville Wilson.
The Leinster Clinic.
10 May, 2011.
1. Invest Ophthal Vis Sc 2008 Nov 49 (11) : 4945-52
2. Biogerontol 2001 : 2 (1); 19-34
3. Am J Kidney Dis 2001 Oct; 38 (4 Suppl 1): 5100-6
4. Cell Biochem Bioph 2007; 48 (2-3): 47-57
5. Exp Gerontol 2001 Sept, 36 (9): 1527-37
6. Biochem Biophys Res Comm. 1996 May 24 : 222 (3) 700-5
7. J. Invest Dermatol 2004 Feb; 122 (2): 461-7
8. Rejuv Res 2010 Aug; 13(4): 453-7
9. Cell Mol Neurobiol 2010 April 30 (3) 395-404
10. Pol J Pharmacol 2003 Nov-Dec 55 (6): 1079-87
11. www.leinsterclinic.ie (LDL-THE OTHER GOOD CHOLESTEROL ; Neville Wilson.
12. FEBS lett 2007 Mar 6; 581(5):727-35
13. Free Rad Biol Med 2010 Mar 1 ; 581 (5) :1067-70
14. Brain Res Bull 2000, Nov 1: 53(4):445-8
15. Biol Pharm Bull 2005 Feb 28 (2): 361-3
16. Eur J Pharmacol 2007, Oct 15; 572 (1) 61-8
17. FEBS lett 2007, March 6; 581 (5): 1067-70
18. Diabetes 2007 Oct 56 910) 2425-32
19. Mol Cancer, 2010:9;2
20. Nutr Cancer, 2008; 60 (4): 526-33
21. Biogerontol 2001 ; 2(1): 19-34
22. J Alzheimer’s Dis 2007, May; 11 (2): 229-40
23. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 2004 Nov 12; 324 (2) 931-6