An impressive new study from researchers at The Buck Institute for Research on Aging has found mice given supplements of an endogenous metabolite display significant healthspan improvements. The research follows on from other similar animal studies with the same compound, and a clinical trial in middle-aged humans is set to get underway.
Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) is produced endogenously in a human body as a product of natural metabolic processes. The molecule is not present in food, but its production can be enhanced by exercise or fasting.
AKG is commonly available as an exercise supplement. Some athletes and body-builders believe it can improve general athletic performance and help build muscle mass, however, there is only a small and inconclusive body of evidence supporting these claims.
Over the past few years some researchers have started investigating the effect of AKG supplementation on lifespan and healthspan. A 2008 review article on the subject noted AKG blood levels can drop by a factor of ten between the ages of 40 and 80. This suggests AKG supplementation in middle-age could confer helpful anti-aging effects into old age.