Insights into the enigmatic effects of carnosine

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nullA new review article published in Chemistry Central Journal by researchers at Aston University has provided new insights into the enigmatic effects of carnosine.

Carnosine is a naturally occurring dipeptide found in the brain, kidney and skeletal muscle of fish, birds and mammals. Although its physiological function remains unknown, in vitro tests have revealed a number of interesting effects. Studies have shown that it delays the onset of senescence in human fibroblast cells, in addition to rejuvenating already senescent cells. Paradoxically, it has also been shown to selectively inhibit the growth of cancer cells. These contradictory effects have led to speculation that carnosine may have therapeutic potential for a wide range of age-related conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and the complications of type-2 diabetes, such as cataracts, stroke and pain.

The review by Prof. Roslyn Bill and colleagues highlights carnosine’s contrasting effects and discusses the potential mechanisms that may explain its unique behaviour. “While carnosine is currently used for a wide range of remedies – including anti-ageing products and body building supplements – how it achieves these effects has been poorly understood” explains Prof. Bill. “Understanding carnosine’s dual influence on human cells gives us a real insight into the compound’s therapeutic potential. Our findings show that carnosine could have a positive impact on individuals suffering from a wide range of age-related conditions”.

The review forms part of a thematic series of papers on the Chemistry of Ageing, which covers topics such as glycation, oxidative stress and other degenerative processes; cellular senescence, mechanistic dissection and interventions; telomerase inhibitors and activators; small molecules with life-extending activity; and novel methods for mining complex cohort and life-course data. The series features selected work from participants at the 2012 meeting of the British Society for Research on Ageing and follows on from a similar collection of papers published after the 2011 meeting.