A clinical study in California on men aged 51 to 65 years suggests that a drug cocktail (growth hormone and anti-diabetics) could reverse the course of our epigenetic clock and give our immune system a new lease of life.
The epigenetic clock makes it possible to evaluate our biological age, which is often different from our chronological age, i.e. our actual age calculated from our date of birth. Measuring our biological age, which is calculated from changes to our DNA, allows us to measure aging much more accurately. The study of biological age differences between people of the same chronological age also helps to understand the influence of environmental factors on aging.
The influence of growth hormone on the thymus gland
The study, the results of which were published in Celula Envelhecida, consisted of testing the influence of HGH on the thymus gland, a gland that is essential for the functioning of our immune system and which begins to shrink after puberty. Animal experiments showed that HGH could promote diabetes, so for one year the 9 participants who followed this “treatment” were also given two antidiabetic drugs in addition to the growth hormone.
The researchers used four different epigenetic clocks to assess the biological age of each patient in the study which showed a significant reversal in all tests. This allowed them to say that this drug cocktail had rejuvenated these men by an average of 2.5 years.
Useful for people with an under-active immune system
In seven of the participants, the blood count and the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed, among other things, that the fat accumulated around the thymus gland had been replaced by the regenerated thymus gland, a regeneration that the scientists believe may be useful in people with an underactive immune system.
“I had expected the epigenetic clock to slow down, not reverse, it seemed a little futuristic,” said geneticist Steve Horvath of the University of California at Los Angeles, who participated in the work. But he tempered his enthusiasm for the surprising results that were obtained, because the study was small and did not include a control groups.