As well as from the UGR [http://www.ugr.es], researchers from the Spanish universities of Seville, Oviedo, Saragossa, Barcelona and Reus also took part in this study, concluding that the consumption of melatonin – a natural substance produced in small amounts by human beings and present in many types of food – delays the oxidative damage and inflammatory processes typical of the old age. Melatonin can be found in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables, like onions, cherries and bananas, and in cereals like corn, oats and rice, as well as in some aromatic plants, such as mint, lemon verbena, sage or thyme, and in red wine.
UGR participation in this study was leaded by professor Darío Acuña Castroviejo, member of the Institute of Biotechnology and lecturer at this University’s department of Physiology. Professor Acuña Castroviejo also coordinates the Spanish Ageing Research Network. Both normal and genetically-modified mice, with an accelerated cell ageing, were analysed. "We proved", says professor Acuña Castroviejo, “that the first signs of ageing in animal tissues start at the age of five months [in mice] – equivalent to 30 human years of age – due to an increase in free radicals (oxygen and nitrogen), which cause an inflammatory reaction.”
The UGR researcher points out that such oxidative stress also has effects in animals’ blood, as blood cells have been proven to be “more fragile with the years and, therefore, their cell membranes become easier to break".
Use in mice
The authors of this innovative finding administered small amounts of melatonin to mice and observed that not only did this substance neutralize the oxidative stress and the inflammatory process caused by ageing, but it also delayed its effects, thus increasing longevity. In particular, the University of Granada’s goal was to analyse the mitochondrial function in mice and check their mitochondrial capacity to produce ATP – adenosine triphosphate – a molecule whose mission is to store the energy every cell needs to carry out its functions.
Professor Acuña Castroviejo highlights that chronic administration of melatonin in animals from the moment they stop producing this substance – five months of age in mice – helps counteract all age-related processes. Therefore, daily melatonin intake in humans from the age of 30 or 40 could prevent – or, at least, delay – illnesses related to ageing, free radicals and inflammatory processes, such as many neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Parkinson's disease) and complications linked to other illnesses, like diabetes.
The researcher is confident that the Spanish Ministry of Health will soon legalise the use of melatonin since, being a substance naturally produced by the body, it cannot be patented and the drug industry would not make much profit out of its artificial production. However, “while the substance becomes legalised, humans should try to increase melatonin consumption through food", recommends professor Acuña Castroviejo.
The results of this study have been published in some of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, such as Free Radical Research, Experimental Gerontology, Journal of Pineal Research and Frontiers in Bioscience.
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Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
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In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.
Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...
The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.
“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...
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