Posted on Sep 26, 2013, 6 a.m.
Statins protect against DNA shortening by telomerase activation, and may promote healthy aging.
Telomeres are the end caps of chromosomes, protecting the DNA complexes from deterioration during cell division. Telomere shortening is considered a marker of cellular aging, and prematurely shortened telomeres have been linked to increased risk of cancers, heart disease, dementia and death. Giuseppe Paolisso, from the University of Naples (Italy), and colleagues worked with two groups of subjects. The first group was under chronic statin therapy, and the second group (control), did not use statins. When researchers measured telomerase activity in both groups, those undergoing statin treatment had higher telomerase activity in their white blood cells, which was associated with lower telomeres shortening along with aging as compared to the control group. Writing that: “statins, modulating telomerase activity, affect telomere erosion along with aging,” the lead researcher observes that: "By telomerase activation, statins may represent a new molecular switch able to slow down senescent cells in our tissues and be able to lead healthy lifespan extension."
Virginia Boccardi, Michelangela Barbieri, Maria Rosaria Rizzo, Raffaele Marfella, Antonietta Esposito, Giuseppe Paolisso, et al. “A new pleiotropic effect of statins in elderly: modulation of telomerase activity.” FASEB J., September 2013; 27:3879-3885.