Sirtuins, the 7 genes that make us live longer and better

7 min

Anti-ageing proteins

They are called SIRT and they are responsible for the production of sirtuins, fundamental proteins that allow the cell to live longer. Scientists have begun to understand how to stimulate them pharmacologically but also with natural molecules.

When we are too stressed, it is often necessary to stop, take a break and regain energy. This rule applies not only to us, but also to our cells.

If they are subjected to stress our cells rest and renovate themselves. Natural evolution has selected precise mechanisms that allow cells to enter a state of “stand-by”: a recovery system that prolongs the life of the cell and also that of our organism. But how does this work?

They are called SIRT genes and there are seven of them within the human cells.

Scientists have identified a family of genes that play a fundamental role in this system of recovery and are therefore considered the most important longevity genes. They are called SIRT genes and there are seven of them within human cells.

These seven genes are responsible for the production of sirtuins, proteins essential for the survival of all living cells and organisms. They are activated in response to threats or conditions of metabolic stress: cold, food shortages and imminent danger. In all these cases, sirtuins reduce the cell’s reproduction activity to concentrate all resources on survival.

There are several ways to stimulate the production of sirtuins, the longevity proteins. Examples are intermittent fasting or a simple reduction in daily calorie intake, which have long been linked to an increase in average life expectancy in several species.

While today we are rarely in a position to feel cold, hungry or threatened, regular physical activity, fasting and voluntary exposure to strong temperature variations have the same effect on the production of sirtuins.

Sirtuins are essential proteins for the survival of all living organisms, which are activated in the presence of threats or different stress conditions.

Sirtuins, ageing and disease

What does all this have to do with longevity? Several studies have shown how the activity of sirtuins can slow down the ageing process and can reduce the risk of related diseases, such as cancer, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases.

If sirtuin activity is compromised, the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes increases, and we become more susceptible to the negative effects of high-fat diets.

For example, it has been observed that if sirtuin activity is compromised, not only the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes increase, but also the other negative effects of high-fat dietary regimens are exacerbated.

In addition, scientists have highlighted how sirtuin activity is fundamental for the maintenance of cardiac health. Sirtuins also maintain proper functioning of the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, which is  highly affected by ageing. These are some of the reasons for which sirtuins have been defined as longevity proteins.

Strategies to stimulate sirtuins

Today we know several ways to stimulate sirtuin production. As mentioned above, intermittent fasting or a simple reduction in daily calorie intake has long been linked to an increase in average life expectancy in several species.

Several natural molecules have been identified which are able to activate sirtuins. These include resveratrol, which has also been demonstrated to prolong the life of cells. Another natural molecule that has recently attracted the attention of researchers is Vitamin B3, or rather a particular form called NR (nicotinamide riboside).

In recent years scientific evidence has been accumulating for the use of certain plant-derived natural molecules to prevent age-related diseases. These molecules can now be used safely in the formulation of new dietary supplements with well-identified mechanisms correlated with improved lifespan.

When it enters cells, NR turns itself into a molecule called NAD (nicotinamide adenin dinucleotide), which is essential for the activity of more than 500 enzymes, including sirtuins.

As we age, NAD levels diminish, which results in decreased functioning of sirtuins and many other enzymes. It has been shown, however, that dietary supplementation with NR regenerates physiological NAD levels and activates sirtuins.

In recent years, strong experimental evidence has been accumulating in favor of the efficacy of such supervitamins in the prevention of age-related diseases.

In recent years, strong experimental evidences has been accumulating supporting the efficacy of such supervitamins in the prevention of age-related diseases. These molecules can now be safely used in the formulation of new dietary supplements, which represent a real possibility for prolonging lifespan.

The combination a customized supplementation of natural molecules together with a personalized physical training and nutritional regimen will therefore be the future strategy to improve sirtuin production and maximise its benefits.

Increased knowledge regarding the benefits of sirtuins has led to ongoing scientific efforts to leverage natural molecules that stimulate sirtuins; such supplementation can be used to achieve sirtuin activation which would be impossible for most individuals to achieve with dietary regimens or exercise alone.

The combination a customized supplementation of natural molecules together with a personalized physical training and nutritional regimen will therefore be the future strategy to improve sirtuin production and maximise its benefits.

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