If you have never heard of klotho, don’t feel bad. We at ProcuraMed, where we read almost everything new in medicine, did not hear about klotho until recently. But a research study just published got our attention. This study, from a renowned university, showed that klotho was able to reverse the brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease.
The studies were done in mice, but there is optimism that klotho might work in human neurologic disease as well, since it is a naturally occurring protein hormone already found in humans. Until now, there has been little success showing that anything can reverse the brain changes in dementia, so klotho could be a huge advance.
What is klotho
Klotho is a protein that, in humans, is produced mostly in the kidneys, but a small amount is made in the brain as well. It circulates in the blood as a hormone, influencing various systems, such as insulin and Vitamin D metabolism, as well as brain functioning.
Our klotho levels decrease as we get older. Previous research has shown that some people have genes that allow them to produce more klotho than others. People with higher klotho levels tend to live longer, and keep their brain functioning better than most people.
Klotho brain research
Until this study from the Neurosciences Institute at the University of California San Francisco, no researcher had injected the substance into animals to see if it might reverse Alzheimer’s. The scientists gave klotho to three different sets of mice: young mice, 18 month-old mice (equivalent of a 65 year-old human), and mice who had been genetically bred to have the destructive brain changes seen in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Within 2 hours of the klotho injection, all three sets of mice showed significant improvement in short-term and spatial memory. Since you can’t administer an IQ test to mice, the way this is measured is through challenging and observing how well the mice navigate various mazes.
If the mice were given continued brain training exercises after one injection, the positive effects lasted two weeks. Klotho improved functioning especially in the hippocampus part of the brain, critical for learning and memory. They believe the protein improved communication between nerves at their synaptic connections—so the nerves could transmit their signals faster and more clearly.
Unfortunately not everything that works in mice also works in humans, but the researchers are optimistic here. Klotho naturally occurs in humans, and is unlikely to cause significant side effects. Human studies are now just beginning, and we will keep you informed of the progress.
How to increase klotho
In the meantime, you can’t buy klotho as a supplement, but there are a few things that are known to increase klotho levels. Vigorous exercise, statins (medications that reduce cholesterol levels), and certain antihypertensive medications seem to increase levels, and perhaps probiotics. The most well proven of these is vigorous exercise. Another reason to be active now, and not wait for the supplement.
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