Anti-aging medications presumably can significantly reduce the risk of death from COVID-19 in the elderly. This was demonstrated by U.S. scientists from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, who uncovered the effectiveness of senolytics in reducing mortality in older mice when infected with betacoronavirus, which is closely related to SARS-CoV-2. Details on a potential remedy that saves from severe complications.
According to the paper’s authors’ hypothesis, one of the major roles in the development of COVID-19 complications is played by senescent cells (SnC), much of which secrete inflammatory factors, clot-enhancing substances and other compounds – all of which together are called the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (or SASP). SASP attracts immune cells that cleanse the body of damaged cells, but despite this, as we age, SnCs accumulate, which disrupts the body’s homeostasis and increases the predisposition to many diseases.
In the experiment, scientists exposed laboratory mice to common pathogens, including beta-coronavirus infection, which resulted in the death of nearly one hundred percent of the old rodents in less than two weeks. Analysis showed that these animals had high levels of inflammatory markers in contrast to young mice, whose survival rate was 89 percent. The researchers found elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines in the serum of the older mice, which were released by SnC.
The beta-coronavirus caused necrotic liver lesions in the old rodents (the young generally recovered), and it was the pathogen that remained active by day 11 of infection, when most mice died. However, administration of senolytics that induce programmed cell death SnC or apoptosis (these include, for example, the flavonoid fizetin found in fruits and vegetables) helped reduce mortality. The drug was administered to mice through a gastric tube at a dose of 20 milligrams per kilogram of weight on days 3,4, 5, and 10,11,12 after exposure to the pathogen. The resulting survival rate among older males was 64 percent and 22 percent among females.
A large study has now been initiated to test fizetine in elderly COVID-19 patients in nursing homes. In addition, as the authors write, during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as future global epidemics, SASP inhibitors, including rapalogs (rapamycin analogues), glucocorticoids and metformin, can be used to curb the cytokine storm and increase survival in the elderly.