AGE/DOSE
Aging & Longevity

Canadian Longevity Organization Spotlights Key Research on Young Plasma and Mushroom-Based Anti-Aging Treatments

The Canadian Longevity Association — a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating longevity research — highlights research on rodent lifespan extension with young plasma and the mushroom-derived compound ergothioneine.

By Bennett M. Sherman

Key Points:

  • The organization presents a study showing that injecting aged rats with blood plasma from younger rats extends their lifespan.
  • Another presented study shows that a mushroom-derived compound — ergothioneine — significantly extends the average lifespan by 21% and the maximal lifespan by 29% in male mice.
  • These findings unveil a glimpse of the latest aging research for possible lifespan-extending treatments.

The Canadian Longevity Association — a non-profit organization in Canada dedicated to accelerating the presentation of effective longevity treatments — presented some of the latest lifespan-extension research in a YouTube video. Namely, the group presented a study showing for the first time that injecting blood plasma in aged rats with that from younger rats extended average lifespan by about 7%. Furthermore, they presented another study showing that ergothioneine, a compound found in mushrooms and available as a supplement, extends average lifespan by 21% and maximal lifespan by 29% in male mice. Uncovering the lifespan-extending properties of these aging interventions in rodents could make way for testing them in humans.

Injections with Younger Plasma Extend Lifespan and Improve Physical Appearance

The plasma study with aged rats used whole plasma from 2-month-old rats (about 12-years-old for people) injected into older, 25-month-old rats (equivalent to someone in their 60s). Measurements of the methylation age — an age prediction based on molecular tags on DNA — suggested that rats injected with younger plasma aged slightly slower. Also, according to the study, reduced methylation age in the group that received injections of younger plasma suggested overall physiological rejuvenation.

What’s more, the younger plasma injections improved average lifespan — the average length of time lived — by about 2.2 months, roughly equivalent to about five years in human terms. However, no significant increase occurred for maximal lifespan.

Another finding was that rats injected with younger plasma had whiter and shinier fur. According to the study, this observation suggested rejuvenated physiological function and overall health.

Injecting aged rats with young blood plasma conferred a rejuvenated appearance.
(Chiavellini et al., 2024 | The Journals of Gerontology) Injecting aged rats with young blood plasma conferred a rejuvenated appearance. Aged rats (32.8-months-old) injected with young plasma (Treated) had whiter, shinier fur than non-injected rats (Control).

A major drawback to this study was that only nine rats were injected with younger plasma. This limits the statistical significance of the findings. Future studies attempting to replicate these results should include higher numbers of rats.

Moreover, although some may have ethical concerns with getting injected with blood plasma from younger donors, future human studies could examine this technique’s effects on methylation age. If plasma injections lower methylation ages in humans, this could be an indicator that this possible age-slowing intervention extends the years lived without disease (healthspan) and potentially lifespan.

Ergothioneine Extends Lifespan, Reduces Body Weight, and Increases Physical Activity

The other study examining ergothioneine showed that this mushroom-derived compound not only significantly extended male mouse lifespan but it also reduced body weight and increased physical function. Furthermore, ergothioneine increased new neuron production and diminished neurodegeneration in these mice. These data suggest that, if applicable to humans, ergothioneine may reduce body weight, revitalize physical vigor, and counteract neurodegeneration, along with possibly promoting lifespan extension.

Aged rats treated with ergothioneine displayed more physical activity.
(Katsube et al., 2024 | Geroscience) Aged rats treated with ergothioneine displayed more physical activity. Compared to non-treated rats (Control; white bars), those treated with ergothioneine (ERGO; gray bars) showed more total movement throughout their lives.

Anti-Aging Celebrity Bryan Johnson Has Received Plasma Injections and Gets Dietary Ergothioneine

Interestingly, aging guru Bryan Johnson, who continuously strives to slow his pace of aging, has made use of injecting plasma from a younger individual. Accordingly, he has been known to inject blood plasma from his young, 17-year-old son. While he found no benefits based on body fluid analyses and unspecified imaging examinations, he says that the possibility looms that benefits may be seen in older populations or in people with certain conditions. Corroborating the possible effects in older people, some reports say that injecting Bryan Johnson’s younger blood into his 71-year-old father significantly slowed his father’s rate of aging. It is also possible that Johnson has reaped benefits from injecting younger plasma that went undetected with the techniques he used to measure them.

As for ergothioneine intake, one of Bryan Johnson’s main course meals, the “super veggie,” contains mushrooms, namely shiitake mushrooms, that have a high ergothioneine content. In that sense, while Bryan Johnson may not supplement with ergothioneine, he likely gets plenty of it through his diet.

Since Johnson is currently 46 years old but still maintains a younger biological age — an assessment of age based on cellular and molecular evidence — of 37, his slowed pace of aging may have something to do with injecting young plasma and getting plenty of ergothioneine. Additionally, the supplements and dietary regimen included in Johnson’s Blueprint longevity protocol may also contribute to his lower biological age compared to his chronological age of 46.

Moreover, perhaps the new lifespan extension findings in aged rats from injecting younger  plasma will prompt Johnson to give this technique another try, especially as he gets older. What’s more, the newest study showing that ergothioneine supplementation significantly extends mouse lifespan could persuade Johnson and others to add this mushroom-derived compound to their supplement stacks.

Human Trials Are in the Works for Young Plasma Injections and Ergothioneine

The studies’ findings showing that injecting young plasma extends lifespan in rats and that ergothioneine prolongs life in mice are the tip of the iceberg. The next step is to find whether these aging interventions work in humans.

In that regard, there is a clinical trial designed to explore whether young plasma injected into older adults mitigates age-related functional decline. It has been withdrawn, though, because it needs revisions. Another clinical trial conducted at Stanford University found that young plasma injections are safe and may improve verbal fluency in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

As for ergothioneine, there is a study with unknown status that will examine whether it ameliorates mild cognitive impairment in older adults. Once these clinical trials get underway and their results published, we will have a better grasp for whether these interventions against aging work in humans.

Model and Dosage

Model: Twenty-five-month-old female Sprague-Dawley rats

Dosage: 1 mL of blood plasma from two-month-old rats intraperitoneally injected every other week until death

Model: C57BL/6J male mice

Dosage: 0.055 mg/mL of ergothioneine administered orally in water from seven weeks of age until death

References

Chiavellini P, Lehmann M, Gallardo MD, Mallat MC, Pasquini DC, Zoller JA, Gordevicius J, Girard M, Lacunza E, Herenu CB, Horvath S, Goya RG. Young Plasma Rejuvenates Blood DNA Methylation Profile, Extends Mean Lifespan, and Improves Physical Appearance in Old Rats. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2024 May 1;79(5):glae071. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glae071. PMID: 38430547; PMCID: PMC11020299.

 

Katsube M, Ishimoto T, Fukushima Y, Kagami A, Shuto T, Kato Y. Ergothioneine promotes longevity and healthy aging in male mice. Geroscience. 2024 Mar 6. doi: 10.1007/s11357-024-01111-5. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38446314.

 

Parker JE, Martinez A, Deutsch GK, Prabhakar V, Lising M, Kapphahn KI, Anidi CM, Neuville R, Coburn M, Shah N, Bronte-Stewart HM. Safety of Plasma Infusions in Parkinson’s Disease. Mov Disord. 2020 Nov;35(11):1905-1913. doi: 10.1002/mds.28198. Epub 2020 Jul 7. PMID: 32633860; PMCID: PMC7361360.

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