Many people believe that life is sustained by sufficient nutrition and oxygen. That is true, but only to a certain extent. Actually, our survival highly depends on tiny organelles called mitochondria. Recently, scientists have discovered that a peptide known as elamipretide can boost mitochondrial activity, resulting in several health benefits.
Learn How the Mitochondria-repairing Peptide Elamipretide Can Benefit Health
Elamipretide (SS-31) is a small peptide that can reach inside the mitochondria and affect mitochondrial function maintenance. Elamipretide belongs to a family of cell-penetrating peptides that target and accumulate at the inner mitochondrial membrane. Inside the mitochondria, elamipretide binds to cardiolipin, an essential component of the inner mitochondrial membrane, and restores the mitochondria.
Given the effects of elamipretide on mitochondrial function and maintenance, treatment with elamipretide is under investigation to determine its benefits on human health. Recently, scientists have discovered at least four excellent benefits that can potentially make elamipretide a viable treatment option for a wide variety of conditions.
Elamipretide Can Treat Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Mitochondrial dysfunction refers to the deterioration of mitochondrial function that results in the inability to produce cellular energy and many other conditions. Using elamipretide as a drug can treat mitochondrial dysfunction due to its regenerative effects on the inner mitochondrial membrane, resulting in many beneficial effects.
Specifically, elamipretide stabilizes the structure of the inner mitochondrial membrane, preventing the decline of the mitochondria leading to improvements in mitochondrial function. Since the mitochondria are vital in the human body and are responsible for producing cellular energy, the administration of elamipretide can improve energy production.
Recognizing this chain of favorable reactions, scientists have determined that elamipretide can enhance physical endurance in patients with conditions related to exercise intolerance by improving energy production.
Elamipretide Can Enhance Physical Endurance
The human ability to perform physical activity and sustain physical exertion starts from the mitochondria. In other words, our survival is dependent on the production of cellular energy by the mitochondria. On this account, people with a disruption in the functioning of the mitochondria might suffer from a debilitating lack of energy and need a drug that can enhance mitochondrial function.
An 8-week study showed that treatment with elamipretide resulted in advantageous effects in aged mice. In particular, elamipretide restores a capacity of cells called redox homeostasis, improves skeletal muscle function, and increases exercise tolerance. The study also found that changes in redox homeostasis in old muscles are crucial in energy deficits and exercise intolerance.
Recognizing the advantageous effects of elamipretide on physical endurance, scientists have also been investigating elamipretide for treating Barth Syndrome, a syndrome characterized by skeletal muscle weakness and physical disability. According to a 12-week phase 2 trial, daily injections of elamipretide improved Barth Syndrome and some cardiac conditions.
Besides treating certain conditions like Barth Syndrome, which is being proposed for FDA approval, elamipretide can help with age-related skeletal muscle degeneration in the elderly to retain their independence and improve their quality of life. Although most of the current findings are from animal studies, elamipretide benefits in physical endurance are likely to be translated into human use.
Elamipretide Can Improve Cognitive Impairment
The blood circulation in the brain has an essential role in maintaining healthy cognitive function. However, oxidative stress in the mitochondria contributes to cognitive impairments as we age. Therefore, scientists conducted a study to determine if alleviating mitochondrial oxidative stress with elamipretide can benefit cognition.
According to a 2-week study in aged mice, treatment with elamipretide significantly increased the dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, which was associated with enhanced working memory and motor skill learning. The study proposes that elamipretide can be a prevention or treatment option for age-related cognitive impairment.
Elamipretide Can Prevent Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Besides its excellent effects on enhancing physical activity and cognitive function, elamipretide can also minimize the risk of cardiovascular diseases, particularly an age-related cardiac condition called diastolic dysfunction. Diastolic dysfunction refers to the hardening of the heart’s ventricles that restricts the heart from functioning properly.
According to an 8-week study, using elamipretide in old mice can substantially reverse diastolic dysfunction by normalizing a mitochondrial mechanism called proton leak and reducing mitochondrial reactive oxygen species in cardiac muscle cells. The study concluded that complications due to age-related cardiac conditions could be reversible by targeting mitochondrial dysfunction.
Although under investigation to fully determine all of its potential benefits, elamipretide has excellent possibilities. This peptide can be an additional treatment option for multiple health conditions if such benefits are proven consistent in human trials.
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