“AKG is part of the metabolic cycle that our cells use to make energy from food. In addition to its use by bodybuilders, doctors sometimes treat osteoporosis and kidney disease with the supplement.
The molecule grabbed attention as a possible antiaging treatment in 2014, when researchers reported AKG could extend life span by more than 50% in tiny Caenorhabditis elegans worms. That’s on par with a low-calorie diet, which has been shown to promote healthy aging, but is hard for most people to stick with. Other groups later showed life span improvements from AKG in fruit flies.
In the new study, Gordon Lithgow and Brian Kennedy of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and colleagues turned to mammals. They gave groups of 18-month-old mice (about age 55 in human years) the equivalent of 2% of their daily chow as AKG until they died, or for up to 21 months. AKG levels in blood gradually drop with age, and the scientists’ aim was to restore levels to those seen in young animals.
Some differences jumped out within a few months: “They looked much blacker, shinier, and younger” than control mice, says Azar Asadi Shahmirzadi, a postdoc at the Buck Institute who did the experiments as a graduate student. In addition, the AKG-fed mice scored an average of more than 40% better on tests of “frailty,” as measured by 31 physiological attributes including hair color, hearing, walking gait, and grip strength. And female mice lived a median of 8% to 20% longer after AKG treatment began than control mice, the group reports today in Cell Metabolism.”–Jocelyn Kaiser, “Bodybuilding supplement promotes healthy aging and extends life span, at least in mice.” Science. September 1, 2020.