Elderly mice suffering from age-related heart disease saw a significant improvement in cardiac function after being treated with the FDA-approved drug rapamycin for just three months. The research, led by a team of scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, shows how rapamycin impacts mammalian tissues, providing functional insights and possible benefits for a drug that has been shown to extend the lifespan of mice as much as 14 percent.
In this study, rapamycin was added to the diets of mice that were 24 months old - the human equivalent of 70 to 75 years of age. Similar to humans, the aged mice exhibited enlarged hearts, a general thickening of the heart wall and a reduced efficiency in the hearts ability to pump blood. The mice were examined with ultrasound echocardiography before and after the three-month treatment period - using metrics closely paralleling those used in humans. Buck Institute [researchers] said age-related cardiac dysfunction was either slowed or reversed in the treated mice.
"Rapamycin affected the expression of genes involved in calcium regulation, mitochondrial metabolism, hypertrophy and inflammation. We also carried out behavioral assessments which showed the treated mice spent more time on running wheels than the mice who aged without intervention."
It sounds a lot like increased exercise has as much to do with the outcome as direct effects of the drug. Exercise, like calorie restriction, has a powerful influence on all aspects of health.