Almost one-third of all genes are influenced by circadian rhythms, and when out of balance they can play roles in health span, cancer, heart disease, inflammation, hormonal imbalance and many other areas, the Oregon State University researchers said. Of particular importance is the dysfunction of circadian rhythms with age which can decrease our not only lifespan but equally importantly our healthspan. For example my father has lived 10+ years after major cardiac surgery BUT like many elderly is very limited by health.
“In old animals, including elderly humans, it’s well-known that circadian rhythms break down and certain enzymes don’t function as efficiently, or as well as they should,” said Dove Keith, a research associate in the Linus Pauling Institute and lead author on this study.”This is very important, and probably deserves a great deal more study than it is getting,” Keith said. “If lipoic acid offers a way to help synchronize and restore circadian rhythms, it could be quite significant.”
Scientists studied the “circadian clock” of the liver. Lipid metabolism by the liver is relevant to metabolic function , normal energy use, metabolism, and when dysfunctional can help contribute to the “metabolic syndrome” that puts millions of people at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. There are also epigenetic effects.
Researchers fed laboratory animals higher levels of lipoic acid than might be attained in a normal diet, while monitoring proteins known to be affected by disruption of the circadian clock in older animals.
They found that lipoic acid helped remediate some of the liver dysfunction that’s often common in old age, and significantly improved the function of their circadian rhythms.
In previous research, scientists found that the amount of lipoic acid that could aid liver and normal lipid function was the equivalent of about 600 milligrams daily for a 150-pound human, more than could normally be obtained through the diet.
A primary goal of research in the Linus Pauling Institute and the OSU Center for Healthy Aging Research is to promote what scientists call “healthspan” – not just the ability to live a long life, but to have comparatively good health and normal activities during almost all of one’s life. Research on lipoic acid, at OSU and elsewhere, suggests it has value toward that goal.
Continued research will explore this process and its role in circadian function, whether it can be sustained, and optimal intake levels that might be needed to improve health.
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Explore further: Lipoic acid explored as anti-aging compound
More information: Lipoic acid entrains the hepatic circadian clock and lipid metabolic proteins that have been desynchronized with advanced age, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X14010018
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