When most people consider anti-aging, they imagine the latest advances in skincare and cosmetics. While these things can certainly provide a number of benefits for one’s appearance, true anti-aging is more than skin-deep. Scientists have long tried to explain the transformation our bodies undergo while aging, but there are many things that contribute to the pieces of the puzzle. Everything from random gene mutation to accumulation of free radical damage contributes to the decline of essential functions, and can result in the cell death that occurs due to the aging process.
In general, aging results from the passage of time and from the increased cell death that occurs as time passes. This means that in order to significantly slow down the body’s natural aging process, effective anti-aging treatments must focus on hindering cell death. One of the most promising anti-aging treatments in science today is Klotho therapy. Klotho itself is a gene and naturally occurring protein within the body that has significant implications in the aging process. Named after Clotho, the Greek goddess of fate who constructs the thread of life, the alpha-Klotho and beta-Klotho hormones are considered anti-aging agents because they share a vital role in the regulation of metabolism and overall longevity.
Animal Studies Inform Klotho Therapy for Humans
The anti-aging effects of Klotho therapy were first demonstrated in mice in which mice that had been genetically engineered to lack Klotho proteins experienced premature aging-related diseases. Mutations in the Klotho gene have resulted in distinct phenotypes that resemble various fundamental aspects of the human aging process, including slowed growth, osteoporosis, the calcification of blood vessels, and premature death. When mice displaying symptoms of age-related Alzheimer’s disease are provided with Klotho therapy, they enjoy protection from cognitive decline. A deficiency in the Klotho gene can shorten the lifespan of a mouse by 80%, while overexpression of this gene extends the lifespan by over 30%. Klotho therapy has the potential to provide significant improvement in both the working and spatial memory of mice within only two days.
Human Studies Demonstrate How Klotho Therapy Works
In humans, Klotho levels demonstrate similar effects. Recent studies have shown that low levels of Klotho correlate with the severity of symptoms suffered by individuals with multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Low Klotho levels are also found in individuals with bipolar disorder and a variety of psychological conditions that result from chronic stress, which can further contribute to additional psychiatric illnesses. At the other end of the spectrum, above average production of Klotho is strongly correlated with improved cognitive performance. Among the 25% of the population with naturally high levels of Klotho, specific areas of the brain are measurably larger, brain volume is increased, and executive thinking is enhanced.
Researchers from Yale have found that beta-Klotho assists in proper functioning of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). By binding to this hormone, beta-Klotho encourages effective glucose metabolism, promotes insulin sensitivity, and helps weight loss through calorie burning. This provides remarkable insight into potential Klotho therapy options for diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, and cancer. Researchers from NYU are exploring methods for enhancing and impeding the body’s beta-Klotho pathway. They believe that Klotho therapy focused on enhancing this pathway may help to treat diabetes and obesity, while Klotho therapy that blocks this pathway may successfully treat liver cancer and bone disorders, among other diseases.
Blocking the Advance of Kidney Disease and Healing Acute Kidney Injury
Because much of the body’s Klotho proteins are produced by the kidneys, Klotho therapy may also be especially successful in treating kidney disease. Advanced age is one of the greatest risk factors for chronic kidney disease, with the majority of patients being 65 or older. Low levels of Klotho result in more severe symptoms and worse outcomes for patients with chronic kidney disease and can contribute to further health complications such as cardiovascular disease. Levels of Klotho proteins decline throughout the progression of chronic kidney disease, so they may serve as a useful marker of the disease.
Animal studies demonstrate that Klotho therapy can significantly improve kidney function and reduce pathology. It can also help treat acute kidney injury, a renal condition that leads to acute kidney failure. Klotho therapy can reduce cell death associated with acute kidney injury and promote successful recovery.
Reducing the Symptoms of Diabetes and Improving Rates of Cancer Survival
Klotho therapy may also hold the potential to alleviate diabetes and cancer. Research on human and animal subjects has shown that diabetics experience decreased Klotho levels in their pancreatic islets, the regions that produce hormones. Low levels of Klotho are also correlated with decreased production of insulin. Diabetic mice treated with Klotho therapy experienced significantly reduced blood glucose levels and significantly increased insulin levels. In patients with cancer, Klotho levels are reduced in certain kinds of tumor cells, a reduction that is strongly associated with decreased survival rates. Animal studies show that Klotho therapy can suppress tumor growth, reduce metastasis of cancer cells, weaken cell resistance to chemotherapy, and improve survival rates.
The Future of Klotho Therapy
Klotho therapy has the incredible potential to produce results for patients with kidney disease, diabetes, and cancer. Future studies must calculate exactly how much of a difference there is between individuals producing normal levels of Klotho proteins and those with abnormal levels, as well as determine the proper dosage for effective treatment. Researchers are confident that the future of Klotho therapy is promising for treating patients with a range of age-related disorders.