January 15, 2008
Lipoic Acid Slows Artery Clogging In Mice

At least in mice lipoic acid reduces the development of cardiovascular disease.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study done with mice has discovered that supplements of lipoic acid can inhibit formation of arterial lesions, lower triglycerides, and reduce blood vessel inflammation and weight gain – all key issues for addressing cardiovascular disease.

Lipoic acid is involved in energy metabolism. Possibly it delivers a benefit by keeping energy generation up in cells in the circulatory system. Imagine we had a better way to keep up energy generation, for example a gene therapy that could replace damaged mitochondrial genes as we age. Well, our blood vessels might remain unclogged for decades longer.

Although the results cannot be directly extrapolated beyond the laboratory, researchers report that “they strongly suggest that lipoic acid supplementation may be useful as an inexpensive but effective intervention strategy . . . reducing known risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis and other inflammatory vascular diseases in humans.”

The findings were made by scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute and College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, and the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington. They were just published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

The study found that lipoic acid supplements reduced atherosclerotic lesion formation in two types of mice that are widely used to study cardiovascular disease, by 55 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The supplements were also associated with almost 40 percent less body weight gain, and lower levels of triglycerides in very low-density lipoproteins.

The reduced body weight gain: Do we gain weight as we age because our metabolisms slow down?

The dose used is the equivalent of 2 grams per day for humans. Mind you, your own arteries might be clean and you ought to eat a better diet of the sort that reduces cardiovascular (and cancer) risk before taking lipoic acid.

Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally occurring nutrient found at low levels in green leafy vegetables, potatoes and meats, especially organ meats such as kidney, heart or liver. The amounts used in this research would not be obtainable by any normal diet, researchers said, and for human consumption might equate to supplements of about 2,000 milligrams per day. Even at low, normal, dietary levels, the compound can play a key role in energy metabolism.

I would rather have gene therapies and cell therapies that turn back the biological clock than take vitamins and other nutrients in pills.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 January 15 09:17 PM  Aging Diet Studies

James Bowery said at January 16, 2008 1:42 AM:

Finding some way to increase resting brain metabolism, despite age, is crucial to slowing age related cognitive decline as well as weight loss. There is no organ, unless you count the skin, that burns more calories while at rest than the brain but if people are taking naps all the time because they can't get enough literal brain power, then it doesn't "work" off the calories.

Indeed, this is crucial enough that I would expect some of the recently evolved genes found by Harpending et al have to do with ramping up brain metabolism to burn the calories made more available by agriculture. Maybe that is a good place to look for drugs for boosting brain burn.

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