Scientists have investigated in a previously unknown route for cellular fuel delivery.
Researchers are more and more interested in finding new ways to slow the aging process in humans.
One possible way to slow the aging process is to fuel properly cells so that they can perform their functions.
NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is key to any cell's fuel supply chain.
NMN (nicotinamide monoucleotide) can produce and enhance NAD's levels in the body.
NMN is naturally contained in foods (in very small amounts) such as edamame, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, and avocado.
However, it has always been uncertain how NMN gets into cells to produce NAD.
Protein Slc12a8 as the "mystery transporter"
Researchers have speculated that there must be a specific NMN transporter that moves NMN straight into cells..
Researchers conducted multiple experiments in cells and mice, identifying and then verifying that a protein called Slc12a8 is in fact the mystery transporter.
In addition, the scientists showed, intriguingly, that cells dial up the expression of the Slc12a8 gene when NAD levels fall.
This suggested that cells don’t just passively accept loss of NAD; they work to maintain their fuel supply by increasing amounts of the NMN transporter, thereby increasing their capacity to bring the raw materials required to make NAD into the cell.
So aging cells try to a degree to compensate for a depleted fuel supply. When NAD inside the cell drops, cells make more NMN transporters trying to increase the amount of NMN they can bring inside.
“What may be important in a future strategy is the combination of giving NMN along with stimulating the transport of NMN into cells.”
Imai says :“With aging, we see a bottleneck in NAD production. The body loses its ability to manufacture NAD over time.
At the same time, it seems to begin burning more NAD, likely due to chronic inflammation.
If we can give NMN and aid its transport into cells, that may be a way to bypass the bottleneck.”
Read the full study here Nature Metabolism.