free radicals do not cause ageing.

Mike Davis xdcrlab at quake.net
Mon Jan 23 20:18:18 EST 1995

Thought this article might be of interest to this discussion.

VITAMIN RESEARCH PRODUCTS, INC.                        
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No information in this article should be taken as a recommendation.  If
you have any 
questions about the relationship between melatonin and your health, seek
the advice of a 
qualified physician.

Article presented in the February/March 1994 edition of the VRP Newsletter

Melatonin and Aging
While melatonin has received increasing attention in both scientific
publications and the 
popular media for its beneficial effects in sleep disorders, the most
promising aspect of our 
expanding knowledge of melatonin's functions in the body has been greatly
This has to do with the mounting evidence that the age-related decrease in
melatonin levels 
directly affects the aging process.

A recently published paper entitled, "Melatonin, hydroxyl radical-mediated
damage, and aging:  A hypothesis," goes a long way towards consolidating
the most recent 
melatonin research into a promising aging theory.  This paper reviews our
understanding of 
melatonin's role in neuroendocrine function and hydroxyl radical
scavenging, and 
concludes that, "...ageing can be regarded as a process caused by hydroxyl
pathology and melatonin deficiency."  Indeed, this paper presents one of
the most exciting 
and well supported aging theories ever published.  The authors present
substantial and 
compelling research that supports their hypothesis that the age-related
decrease in nocturnal 
melatonin release is central to the aging process in humans and other animals.  

One of the more interesting lines of research they cover is the
relationship between dietary 
restriction and melatonin.  While dietary restriction is the most
extensively studied 
experimental method that consistently yields increases in average and
maximum lifespan, 
research is presented suggesting that most, if not all, of the positive
effects of dietary 
restriction can be elicited by melatonin administration.  In fact,
compelling evidence shows 
that one of the major effects of dietary restriction is the preservation
of melatonin release 
with advancing age.  It appears that melatonin mediates many effects of
dietary restriction 
in experimental animals.  Most important is the author's conclusion that,"
treatment, unlike dietary restriction, increases life expectancy
substantially even when 
introduced late in life."  Other research that is presented suggests that
many centrally active 
drugs that have shown promise as neuroprotective and anti-aging compounds,
deprenyl, ergot alkaloids, and acetylcarnitine, may function through their
restoration or 
stimulation of melatonin release.  

Probably most interesting is the authors' treatment of the recent
discovery of melatonin's 
antioxidant properties.  The authors present evidence showing melatonin to
be the most 
potent endogenous scavenger of the highly-toxic hydroxyl radical, and show
that melatonin 
has unique antioxidant properties not shared by other antioxidants.  They
contend that, 
"Melatonin is the most powerful and effective endogenous hydroxyl radical
detected to date, which, due to its lipophilic nature, provides on-site
protection to all 
biomolecules."  Indeed, melatonin is more than ten times as powerful as
glutathione, and 
acts as the primary non-enzymatic antioxidant defense against the
extremely reactive 
hydroxyl radical.    

With the publication of this exciting paper on melatonin's potential as an
treatment, as well as compelling statements such as, "Aged animals and
humans are 
melatonin deficient," there seems little question that the next few years
will see melatonin 
emerge as the first safe, effective, and easy to use antiaging treatment. 
In addition, the 
interrelationship between dietary restriction; drugs like deprenyl,
acetylcarnitine, and ergot 
alkaloids; melatonin; and the aging process present the possibility of
melatonin representing 
a common mechanism for the beneficial effect on lifespan of these
different treatments.  It 
is somewhat ironic that a naturally-produced substance like melatonin,
known for its 
function in regulating sleep, and generally overlooked for decades, may
turn out to be most 
necessary for keeping you healthy - and alive.

Reference:  B. Poeggeler, et al, J Pineal Res  1993; 14: 151-168.

Mike Davis                                          xdcrlab at quake.net
"The stupid opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as superior to the stupid opinions of others. EITA"
"Innovation is not dead it is merely being sat on" M.D.
"You can't order inspiration"  L. Riggle Davis

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