Pomegranate fruit, as well as nuts and berries, contain ellagitannins. If the right microbes are available, these are metabolized to urolithin in the human gut. Chris Rinsch, Amazentis SA, Lausanne, Switzerland, Johan Auwerx, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, and colleagues have found that urolithin A (UA) activates mitophagy, both in vitro and in vivo, following oral consumption. Mitophagy is the selective degradation of mitochondria as a clean-up mechanism of the cell. Mitophagy is reduced with age. As a result no longer functioning mitochondria accumulate in the muscles and prevent the formation of new cells.
The researchers showed that in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, UA prevents the accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria with age. It extends lifespan and prolongs normal activity during aging. The same effects were seen in mice.
According to the researchers, UA has potential in strategies to improve mitochondrial and muscle function. In a start-up company they have developed methods to administer accurately calculated concentrations of UA. They say, a first clinical trial with humans has started in several European hospitals.
- Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents,
Dongryeol Ryu, Laurent Mouchiroud, Pénélope A Andreux, Elena Katsyuba, Norman Moullan, Amandine A Nicolet-dit-Félix, Evan G Williams, Pooja Jha, Giuseppe Lo Sasso, Damien Huzard, Patrick Aebischer, Carmen Sandi, Chris Rinsch, Johan Auwerx,
Nature Med. 2016.