Globally, the number of people over 60 years old is expected to double by 2050. Meanwhile, the number of people over 80 is predicted to be three times higher in 2050 than in 2013. This expanding older population is also burdened with numerous challenges in cognitive, cardiovascular, bone, and immune health. Simply extending lifespan without addressing the associated health challenges that comes with aging results in a reduced quality of life.
In anticipation of this expanding aging population, a global movement to take action to foster healthy aging is underway. The United Nations declared 2021-2030 to be the Decade of Healthy Aging that involves a global collaboration of agencies, societies, private and public sectors to foster longer and healthier lives.
Consumers today are paying more attention to making positive changes in their lifestyle or nutrition that support their overall health. According to Innova Market Insights, consumers aged 26 to 55 years old believe healthy aging is linked to optimal dietary habits instead of simply accepting that aging as an immutable process. The notion of improving healthspan is no longer just a concern for the aged population. Healthy aging is either “extremely or very” important for 55% of respondents between 18 and 25 years (Innova, 2021). The demand of anti-aging solutions and nutritional offerings to support holistic health reflects the awareness and importance of healthy aging.
Is Ergothioneine a Means to Healthy Aging?
Enriched in mushrooms, ergothioneine is considered a longevity vitamin with potent antioxidant properties that combats oxidative stress inside cells. Ergothioneine is unique in that human cells express a highly specific transporter for this molecule, despite it not being made in the body (Figure 1). With aging, levels of ergothioneine in the body drop. Replenishing the body’s ergothioneine levels may help support healthier aging and improve healthspan.
Figure 1. Cells in the human body express a highly specific transporter for the antioxidant ergothioneine.
On a cellular level, ergothioneine is shown to support telomere length. Ergothioneine also activates the expression of sirtuins, which are proteins implicated in cell senescence, inflammaging, and ultimately, lifespan. Cellular senescence is a result of a variety of stressors that lead to irreversible cessation of cell division. Senescent cells accumulate during aging, contribute to inflammation, and have been implicated in a variety of age-related health problems.
ErgoActive is a GRAS-affirmed high-quality source of fermented ergothioneine with FDA no objection. The health benefits of ErgoActive are studied in preclinical and ongoing clinical research.
Telomeres, the protective endcaps of chromosomes, are critical for the life of cells. Telomere length is considered a hallmark of aging— the shorter the telomere, the older the cell. Telomere shortening is associated with aging and associated health problems.
In a recent preclinical study, ErgoActive ergothioneine is shown to preserve telomere length and reduce the rate of telomere shortening in human cells (Figure 2). In this study, researchers used cultured human fibroblasts to study the effects of ergothioneine on telomere length. The concentrations used in the study (17 uM – 4.4 mM) are within physiological ranges of that observed in blood and tissues. Because oxidative stress is known to accelerate telomere shortening, the study was conducted under both standard and oxidative conditions. Under oxidative stress conditions, ergothioneine treatment resulted in significantly longer median telomere length and significantly reduced the percentage of short telomeres for all treatment concentrations after 8 weeks.
The study supports the notion that intake of ErgoActive ergothioneine through nutritional means may help support aspects of healthy aging, such as combatting oxidative stress and telomere shortening.
Figure 2. Ergothioneine supports telomere length in human cells.
Ongoing Clinical Trials on Cognition and Immune Health
What’s next? Ongoing clinical trials are investigating the effects of ErgoActive ergothioneine on other aspects of healthy aging, including cognitive health and immune function in healthy aging populations.
Study 1 - Cognitive function, mood, sleep
The objective of the study is to investigate the effects of ErgoActive ergothioneine supplementation on cognitive performance, mood, and sleep. Biomarkers related to inflammation, blood ergothioneine levels and telomere length will also be assessed. Generally healthy men and women ranging 55-79 years of age are being recruited in this double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Study 2 – Immune function
The objective of the study is to assess the effects of ErgoActive ergothioneine supplementation on immune cell activation biomarkers in generally healthy adult men and women. Antioxidant status, markers of cellular senescence, and other measures of immune function will also be assessed. Generally healthy men and women ranging 50-65 years of age are recruited in this double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Blue California’s R&D team is committed to expanding the science to support ergothioneine’s important role in key aspects of healthy aging in order to meet the needs of the growing population and to positively impact lives.
To view completed study on telomere support: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33287595/