By
Drs. Ricardo B. Maccioni, University of Chile
Juan Carlos Molina, MEDS Clinics,
Raúl Prieto, Instituto Traumatológico de Chile and Cristian Vilches, Xin Chinese Medicine.

 

Aging is a normal biological process associated with a gradual loss of

people’s physical and mental capacities. We know that there are genetic

factors that are determinants of functional losses, but it is necessary to

emphasize that an important part is played by epigenetic factors, that is,

that the expression of genes, which are already defined in the genome of

each individual can be modulated. Thus, the action of genes that confer

susceptibility to diseases can be mitigated with healthy lifestyles, physical

exercise, balanced nutrition, avoiding harmful molecules to health and drugs,

as well as practicing active aging during the life cycle.

 

A series of studies

indicate that prolonged confinement could increase the risk of increasing

cognitive decline in adults older than 65 years or contracting a

neurodegenerative disorder.

 

Every day progress is made in determining what are the factors at the cellular

and molecular level that control how and when one ages. Telomers are

involved in aging. Regarding the mechanisms of telomere shortening,

different activators of telomerases have been developed, the enzyme that

repairs the gradual shortening of these telomeres for each cell division,

acting as a regulator of aging by preventing damage to the genetic material

present in the DNA. We know that telomerase activity gradually decreases

with aging. Most of the activators of this enzyme are of natural origin. On the

other hand, a factor that has a relevant influence on the speed with which

one ages is the “senescent” cells, also called “zombie cells”. These are

remnants that remain in the tissues, and that are dysfunctional since they

are degraded after each apoptosis process (programmed cell death) as part

of the mechanisms of cell turnover, in every tissue of the organism. It is

important to enhance the clearance of these cells from the tissues since they

can exert a toxic action on the active tissue medium. The natural compound

present in certain fruits, quercetin, has been shown to activate this

purification, thus slowing down the aging process. Selenium is also key in

the control of aging.

 

In this context, an important path has also been opened towards the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), considering that there are elements of nutrition, daily exercise, avoiding toxic substances, as well as an active social life, meditation and control. of stress that act preventively mitigating the risk of AD. In short, to achieve active aging as proposed by Dr. J. C. Molina. Regarding how each of these factors works is the subject of a long discussion and we will not see it in this article, the purpose of which is to pay attention to environmental risk factors and in particular confinement in older adults, such as what is occurring as a result of measures to avoid COVID- 19.

In the present Congress of the Alzheimer Association in which we are currently participating, it has been shown, for example, that vaccination against influenza and pneumonia decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, COVID-19 disease appears to worsen the level of dementia in patients with this type of disorder.

In this same Congress it has been also highlighted that recent research points to the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias being present in adolescents and young people under 20 years of age, which introduces another factor of concern, but emphasizes the enormous importance of preventive medicine against these disorders. Prevention is crucial considering that there is still no cure for dementias, which according to evidence has been due to a delay in the knowledge of its causes due to erroneous hypotheses raised in the past. Fortunately, today a path is opened towards prevention and also towards new therapeutic approaches. These include: 1) Approaches based on the use of molecules that control the oligomerization of the tau protein, and in particular the use of nutraceuticals, including the Andean Shilajit (in the formula BrainUp-10), B vitamins, curcumin, rosemarinic acid and others. An advantage is that nutraceutical therapies are “multitarget”, that is, they target different blanks in the brain organization, important because AD is a multifactorial disease. The Laboratory of Prof. Dr. R.B. Maccioni is a world pioneer in these studies. On the other hand, the drugs themselves are only directed at a single target,

which may not be the determinant of pathogenesis. 2) The daily practice of meditation as a highly recommended tool for older adults during forced confinement like the current one. The biochemist Elizabeth Blackburn obtained the Nobel Prize in Medicine, by demonstrating the function of telomeres in the distal region of each chromosome, and that meditation (“Mindfulness”) slowed telomeric shortening, demonstrating an effective, non-invasive and non-toxic action in controlling aging, on the other hand contributing to reducing the risks of acquiring AD. 3) There are also studies that show that the practice of Taichi or Taijiquan and Chi Kung or Qigong slows down aging and promotes healthy longevity, therefore reducing the probability of dementia. These aspects were the central axis of the Seminar

“Telomeres and healthy longevity” organized by Dr. R. Prieto, in the midst of social uncertainty and almost at the beginning of the pandemic and in which the expert in Chinese Medicine Cristian Vilches participated. Both meditation and Qi Qong produce specific structural and functional changes in the brain demonstrated by nuclear magnetic resonance; modifications that are accompanied by ontological changes. 4) Regarding how each of these factors works is a matter of discussion, it is important to reverse sedentary lifestyle close to 90% among older people, where, as discussed above, moderate aerobic exercise and its practice becomes a true obligation, given its proven action at the level of the telomeres. This action occurs by lengthening the telomeres, while decreasing the probability of dementia by

The most transformative advance in AD has been an apparent failure: the fall of a 30-year dominance of the wrong amyloid hypothesis. The theory of neuro immunomodulation by Dr. Maccioni comes into effect to provide a clear explanation of AD based on clinical evidence. We are now seeing the success of lifestyle modification that supports AD as a chronic, multi-factor condition that requires, like heart disease, multiple intervention points to improve human health. Adopting this more holistic view can transform the way we benefit patients as we advance our understanding of complex transformation mechanisms from full health to Alzheimer’s.

A proposition put forward by prominent Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. George Perry of the University of Texas is that AD is part of a dynamic continuum with normal aging. Our own data suggests that AD is a clear break from normal aging; a pleiotropic change in everything that makes neurons resistant to cell death, but without function. Dr. Perry point “…Understanding this transformative process requires a systems biology-based approach”. We thus live the most exciting moments of medical research, in which we can effectively control the aging of people while maintaining a high quality of life. In addition, the knowledge of proteome, genome and metabolomics maps provide new knowledge to understand the fascinating aspects of biological complexity (already raised by Erwin Schrödinger, in his writing “What is life” and in his calls to return to look at the ancient Jonia, and the “Greek Miracle”) and the projections it has had on contemporary scientific activity. These studies have also shed light on the healthy maintenance of older adults, and of middle- aged adults, in confined environments, a determining factor in the management of these people during quarantine due to the coronavirus.

Santiago, 29 de Julio de 2020