As we grow older, our cognitive abilities often decline, but the reasons behind this decline are not well understood, and we don’t have good solutions to prevent or reverse it.
However, it is crucial to comprehend and reverse the factors that contribute to age-associated cognitive decline (ACD) because ageing is considered the most significant risk factor for developing dementia. In a previous study, it was discovered that older individuals with ACD had lower levels of a substance called glutathione (GSH) in their bodies, which resulted in increased oxidative stress (OxS), problems with energy production in the mitochondria (the powerhouses of our cells), impaired glucose metabolism, and inflammation. Fortunately, when these individuals were given a supplement called GlyNAC, which contains glycine and N-acetylcysteine, their conditions improved.
To investigate whether similar issues occur in the brains of individuals with ACD and if GlyNAC supplementation can help, scientists conducted experiments using young and old mice. The old mice were fed a regular diet, while some received a diet supplemented with GlyNAC for eight weeks. The young mice were given only the regular diet. The researchers assessed cognitive abilities and various brain functions such as GSH levels, OxS, mitochondrial energy production, cellular cleaning processes, glucose transporters, inflammation, genetic damage, and factors related to brain growth.
The findings revealed that the old mice without GlyNAC supplementation had significant cognitive impairment and multiple defects in their brains compared to the young mice. However, the old mice that received GlyNAC supplementation showed improvements in their brain functions and had their cognitive decline reversed. This study indicates that natural cognitive decline associated with ageing is connected to several irregularities in the brain. Additionally, it demonstrates that by correcting these defects through GlyNAC supplementation, cognitive function can be enhanced in older individuals.
This research sheds light on the mechanisms underlying age-associated cognitive decline and highlights the potential of GlyNAC supplementation as a promising intervention to mitigate cognitive decline and improve brain function in ageing individuals.
GlyNAC (Glycine and N-Acetylcysteine) supplementation in old mice: A promising strategy for counteracting age-related cognitive decline
Here are our key takeaways from the study, GlyNAC (Glycine and N-Acetylcysteine) Supplementation in Old Mice Improves Brain Glutathione Deficiency, Oxidative Stress, Glucose Uptake, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Genomic Damage, Inflammation and Neurotrophic Factors to Reverse Age-Associated Cognitive Decline: Implications for Improving Brain Health in Aging
Age-related cognitive decline
As people get older, they are at a higher risk of experiencing cognitive decline, which refers to a decline in mental abilities like memory, problem-solving, and reasoning.
This decline is often subclinical, meaning it may not be noticeable, but it can affect brain structure. Since the world’s older adult population is growing rapidly, it’s important to understand the mechanisms behind cognitive decline in ageing to improve brain health and potentially find clues to combat diseases like Alzheimer’s.
GlyNAC supplementation improves cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are major concerns for the elderly.
Unfortunately, many interventions and medications haven’t shown clear evidence of cognitive protection.
However, the study suggests that supplementing with GlyNAC (a combination of certain amino acids) can potentially reverse brain abnormalities and improve cognitive function in ageing individuals.
While the study was conducted on mice, previous clinical trials with older adults have also shown positive effects of GlyNAC on cognition.
Correcting GSH deficiency and oxidative stress
Ageing is associated with a decrease in a vital antioxidant called glutathione (GSH). GSH deficiency can contribute to cognitive impairment in ageing and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The study found that GlyNAC supplementation successfully restored GSH levels in the brains of older mice.
Additionally, GlyNAC lowered oxidative stress, which is harmful to cells and can negatively affect brain function.
By maintaining a proper balance of antioxidants, GlyNAC may support brain health in ageing individuals.
Restoring abnormalities in brain glucose metabolism
The brain requires a significant amount of energy to function properly. Glucose, a type of sugar, is the brain’s primary fuel source.
However, ageing can lead to a decrease in glucose availability and impaired brain glucose metabolism.
The study discovered that old mice had lower levels of proteins responsible for transporting glucose into the brain cells. GlyNAC supplementation was able to improve the expression of these proteins, indicating a restoration of glucose availability in the brain.
This finding has potential implications for reversing similar defects in older humans and patients with Alzheimer’s.
Correcting mitochondrial dysfunction in the ageing brain
Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells, including brain cells, providing the energy needed for optimal functioning.
Both age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. The study revealed multiple abnormalities in mitochondrial function in the brains of old mice, including reduced protein expression and impaired functioning of mitochondrial complexes.
GlyNAC supplementation effectively improved these abnormalities, indicating a potential role in reversing mitochondrial dysfunction and improving brain health and cognitive function in ageing individuals.
Overall, the study suggests that GlyNAC supplementation holds promise as a potential intervention to improve cognitive decline and address various brain abnormalities associated with ageing. However, it’s important to note that the study was conducted on mice, and further research, including larger clinical trials with older adults, is needed to definitively confirm these findings.
Reference: Kumar P, Osahon OW, Sekhar RV. GlyNAC (Glycine and N-Acetylcysteine) Supplementation in Old Mice Improves Brain Glutathione Deficiency, Oxidative Stress, Glucose Uptake, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Genomic Damage, Inflammation and Neurotrophic Factors to Reverse Age-Associated Cognitive Decline: Implications for Improving Brain Health in Aging. Antioxidants. 2023; 12(5):1042. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox12051042