A team of scientists from the biochemistry department of Allahabad University (AU) have found positive effects of a compound ‘Berberine’ as an anti-aging agent.
Led by Prof SI Rizvi of the department of biochemistry, findings of the research that indicates use of this compound as a possible novel anti-aging intervention has been published by the team in the leading German research journal, Z Naturforsch.
“Berberine is a chemical found in some plants and is commonly known as tree turmeric (Coscinium fenestratum) or Daruharidra in Sanskrit. Indian traditional medicine describes berberine to benefit people with certain heart conditions and is also sometimes used to control blood sugar and hypertension,” said Prof Rizvi.
However, it is the first time that the efficacy of berberine has been scientifically validated with respect to its anti-aging properties, he added.
Prof Rizvi said that for testing the anti-aging effect, they developed a model of rats which had a higher rate of aging. Normally rats have a life span of 24 months, but the model of rat developed by the research team aged much faster and had a lifespan of only six months. The research team treated the rats with berberine for six weeks. After this period, the rats were sacrificed, and an array of biochemical parameters were investigated.
“To our astonishment, we found very interesting results leading us to believe that berberine surely offers a viable anti-aging alternative,” says Prof Rizvi.
Prof Rizvi added that berberine showed a very strong effect on transport of calcium and sodium across cell membranes. In fact, during aging it is known that the ability of the body to transport ions across cell membranes gets compromised. The ability of berberine to reverse the aging-induced changes in membrane transport of sodium and calcium is an important finding and opens up a new area of research, said Prof Rizvi.
Prof Rizvi is hopeful that this research would provide an important lead in anti-aging research. It also highlights the importance of exploring further into the Indian traditional system of medicine and testing the efficacy of bioactive compounds in plants which are known to display medicinal properties.