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Rapamycin and Aging: Potential Benefits and Risks

risks and benefits of rapamycin

Rapamycin is a drug that has been studied for its potential to extend lifespan and improve healthspan in aging mice. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve immunity, as well as protect against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. However, it may come with risks such as infection, kidney damage, and bone marrow suppression. Further research is needed to understand the potential effects of rapamycin in humans. 

Rapamycin, also known as sirolimus, is a drug that has been studied for its potential to extend lifespan. Rapamycin works by inhibiting mTOR, an enzyme involved in the control of cell growth and metabolism, and ultimately aging. Studies have suggested that rapamycin can increase the healthspan of aging mice (Correia-Melo et al., 2019), meaning they experience fewer age-related diseases and live longer.

The potential benefits of rapamycin are far-reaching. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve immunity in aging mice and humans, respectively. (An et al., 2020; Mannick et al., 2014). It has also been found to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (Gao et al., 2020). In addition, rapamycin has been demonstrated to have protective effects against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease (Li et al., 2014; Selvarani et al., 2021).

Despite the potential benefits of rapamycin, there are some potential risks associated with its use. These include increased risk of infection, kidney damage, and bone marrow suppression (Martin et al., 2021). Furthermore, due to its ability to suppress the immune system, rapamycin may come with potential adverse effects such as weakened immune system, inflammation, constipation and anemia. However, for the dosing schedule typically followed for longevity purposes, many believe the concerns regarding immune suppression are overblown, or possibly even outright false, with at least one human study giving reason to believe that intermittent dosing may be capable of strengthening the immune system (Kaeberlein, 2021).

It is important to note that most of the research on rapamycin and aging has been conducted in animal models, so it is not yet clear if these effects will be seen in humans. Nevertheless, the results of these studies are promising and suggest that rapamycin may be effective in extending lifespan and improving healthspan in humans. Further research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of rapamycin for humans.

In conclusion, rapamycin shows promise for extending lifespan and improving healthspan. However, further research is necessary to understand the potential risks and benefits of this drug for humans.

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  1. An, J. Y., Kerns, K. A., Ouellette, A., Robinson, L., Morris, H. D., Kaczorowski, C., Park, S. I., Mekvanich, T., Kang, A., McLean, J. S., Cox, T. C., & Kaeberlein, M. (2020). Rapamycin rejuvenates oral health in aging mice. eLife, 9, e54318.
  2. Correia-Melo, C., Birch, J., Fielder, E., Rahmatika, D., Taylor, J., Chapman, J., Lagnado, A., Carroll, B. M., Miwa, S., Richardson, G., Jurk, D., Oakley, F., Mann, J., Mann, D. A., Korolchuk, V. I., & Passos, J. F. (2019). Rapamycin improves healthspan but not inflammaging in nfκb1-/- mice. Aging cell, 18(1), e12882.
  3. Gao, G., Chen, W., Yan, M., Liu, J., Luo, H., Wang, C., & Yang, P. (2020). Rapamycin regulates the balance between cardiomyocyte apoptosis and autophagy in chronic heart failure by inhibiting mTOR signaling. International journal of molecular medicine, 45(1), 195–209.
  4. Bischof, E., Siow, R. C., Zhavoronkov, A., & Kaeberlein, M. (2021). The potential of rapalogs to enhance resilience against SARS-CoV-2 infection and reduce the severity of COVID-19. The Lancet Healthy Longevity, [Online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/S2666-7568(20)30068-4
  5. Li, J., Kim, S. G., & Blenis, J. (2014). Rapamycin: one drug, many effects. Cell metabolism, 19(3), 373–379.
  6. Mannick, J. B., Del Giudice, G., Lattanzi, M., Valiante, N. M., Praestgaard, J., Huang, B., Lonetto, M. A., Maecker, H. T., Kovarik, J., Carson, S., Glass, D. J., & Klickstein, L. B. (2014). mTOR inhibition improves immune function in the elderly. Science translational medicine, 6(268), 268ra179.
  7. Selvarani, R., Mohammed, S., & Richardson, A. (2021). Effect of rapamycin on aging and age-related diseases-past and future. GeroScience, 43(3), 1135–1158.

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