Self-Experimenters Make an Initial Attempt at Human Plasma Dilution

Today's news from the self-experimentation community notes a more adventurous effort, in which a few volunteers underwent blood plasma dilution followed by assessments of function. Plasma dilution, or neutral blood exchange, involves extracting blood, replacing the plasma fraction of that blood with saline and albumin, then reintroducing the new mix. The effect is a dilution of the circulating plasma and all that it contains. For most people this procedure is past the outer limits of practicality as a self-experiment. It requires a good amount of scientific or medical knowledge, familiarity with the latest research on the topic, and cooperative physicians.

Plasma dilution as a treatment to favorably adjust the age-damaged operation of metabolism is one of the more interesting outcomes of heterochronic parabiosis research. In a heterochronic parabiosis study, old and young mice have their circulatory systems linked. The old mice show signs of reversed aging, while the young mice show signs of accelerated aging. Is this because of factors in young blood that improve the function of old tissues, or is it because old blood is packed with damaging factors that impair tissue function?

It may be both, but the most compelling evidence points to old blood being full of actively harmful molecules, such as debris from damaged cells, the inflammatory signaling of senescent cells, and so forth. Diluting these signals restores a better operation of tissue throughout the body - at least in mice. Formal human trials lie somewhere in the years ahead, but the volunteers noted here are to be commended for responsibly stepping up to try the procedure and publish their data. It would be a better world were more of the self-experimentation community as competent in their efforts.

Biohackers Perform First Plasma Dilution Experiment on Humans

How did your group first get interested in the idea of plasma dilution? I understand that Irina Conboy's work had a certain influence?

Not just influence. It played a central role. The Conboys' study was published in May. It showed that simple plasma dilution can recapitulate most of the benefits of parabiosis. The original parabiosis results hinted on the existence of certain systemic factors of aging and at the possibility of its reversal. This recent study made the procedure easier and eliminated ethical controversies. The procedure is almost similar to donating blood plasma. This simple procedure yielded some interesting results: it triggered muscle regeneration in mice, liver regeneration in older animals, and improved neurogenesis. Recently, in late November, I think, another study was published that showed some real cognitive improvement following this procedure. So, now we have some serious proof that blood contains signaling molecules that harm the organism, but there is no data on whether this procedure actually prolongs lifespan. I think there is a reason for it. It is highly unlikely that this procedure results in any meaningful life extension. I think most of the effect is on healthspan rather than on lifespan. It is still good news, since we currently have very few ways to extend healthspan.

Why did you decide to participate in this small-scale experiment on humans?

Our team has existed for some time now. It is a small community of biohackers. It seemed like a great way to quickly test this intervention, get some results fast, and tell people about it.

How did you choose the tests for the panel?

It would have been interesting to look at cognitive and muscular markers, but both our participants were too young: 50-60 years old. They probably do not have sarcopenia or cognitive decline yet, so there was no way for us to measure it. We chose different biomarkers, such as liver function - both of our participants had had some abnormalities in their liver biomarkers. We wanted to check kidney function because it declines with age. We checked the immune system, because as we age, the number of naïve T cells declines, and these are indispensable for fighting new infections. Hematopoietic cell aging is characterized by a shift towards myeloid progenitors. We looked at the ratio of neutrophils and lymphocytes, how it changed. Cholesterol is another important marker in the lipid profile of blood. We did a very comprehensive lipid profile that included a rare biomarker that many labs do not check for - oxidized low-density lipoproteins (Ox-LDL). I can say that this marker plummeted all the way down to its normal level in one participant that had it elevated prior to the procedure. We also checked for various hormones, including insulin-like growth factor (IGF), that are related to aging and lifespan, and many other markers, including biochemical ones, such as urea and uric acid, along with oxidative stress markers, such as lipid peroxidation products and glutathione. Contrary to epigenetic clocks, these markers can be clinically interpreted.

Do you plan to publish the results, maybe as a case study?

We have all the data published on our website so that researchers can see it. We do not plan to publish an article. First, I am convinced that soon we will have full-scale clinical trials of this method, maybe by the Conboys, and there is something in the works here in Russia as well. I do not know how valuable our data is, considering our sample size was just two people. We just wanted to see whether it was possible to arrange such an intervention in humans using the means we had at our disposal, and whether it would do any good. Now we know it actually did some good, in terms of the number of naïve T-cells, levels of oxidized LDL. The drop in Ox-LDL levels was probably due not simply to dilution but to some deeper processes, because in one participant, these levels declined, while in the other they went up from an originally low level. So, in both participants, LDL levels normalized and stayed normal for at least two weeks. Liver markers improved by a lot, and the myelocyte/lymphocyte ratio improved. There were some controversial results, such as one participant having insulin levels decline four-fold but not the other one.


Would some of these benefits be realized with regular blood donations as well?

Posted by: Javier T at December 24th, 2020 4:38 PM

I thought the "neutral blood exchange" was referring to the removal of plasma & replacement with albumin.

So how about regular plasma donations? That's what I'm planning to do just as soon as I get my Covid shot.

Posted by: Matt at December 24th, 2020 8:21 PM

Several seemingly unrelated articles also support the rational for implementing this therapeutic procedure.

1. Data mining of human plasma proteins generates a multitude of highly predictive aging clocks that reflect different aspects of aging.pdf

2. Perspective - Is therapeutic plasma exchange a viable option for treating Alzheimer's disease?

3. Therapeutic Plasma Exchange in Renal Disease.

4. Therapeutic Plasma Exchange - An Emerging Treatment Modality in Patients with Neurologic and Non-Neurologic Diseases

5. Therapeutic plasma exchange with standard hemodialysis machine as an alternative to dedicated aphaeresis device: A 5-year experience

- Combined With -

6. Therapeutic Plasma Exchange Using Membrane Plasma Separation

Posted by: Michael Slattery at December 26th, 2020 11:55 PM

The quality of the albumin is important. Standard hospital albumin in not intended for chronic use and has been shown to have high levels of aluminum in it. I spent years studying this procedure and the required technology to create the possibility of a "do no harm" intervention. It is clear it requires products manufactured for the purpose of chronic use. Current products are meant as interventions in acute emergencies, not chronic health extension.

Posted by: Joshua McClure at December 27th, 2020 10:09 AM

Thanks joshua. Additionally there is the issue of mineral, and who knows what else, loss and injection site stress.

Posted by: JohnD at December 27th, 2020 4:36 PM

I don't see what this tiny self-experiment adds to what we already know. Plasma exchange is a procedure that is performed for a variety of health problems and it is routinely done at greater than the 50% exchange targeted here. For some conditions, it is done repeatedly many times over extended periods of time so a very wide range of treatment "dosages" have been done. In all the 100s of thousands of procedures performed, if there was a significant anti-aging benefit we should know about it in the same way people noticed the effect of Viagra when it was in a clinical trial for cardiovascular disease.

Posted by: Gabor at December 28th, 2020 8:58 PM

I agree with Gabor. I have been donating plasma for many years, as have others I know and we've noticed no benefit. They Don't replace it with albumin, just saline. I am glad, considering wat I read above. But I wonder about any negative health consequences associated with this. Anyone?...

Posted by: Fon at January 16th, 2021 1:13 PM

Regarding plasma donation, there's no data I'm aware of that has examined the rejuvenative potential of plasma donation. However, for example, for a 180-lb person, there's a large difference in the amount of plasma exchanged between therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) and plasma donation. TPE would swap out ~4L of plasma, while donation would only swap out 880 ml.

I'm not sure the lack of albumin returned to the patient during plasma donation is the critical difference between the two procedures. There was a study on dogs back in the 50's ("Mechanism of Plasma Protein Changes Following Saline Infusions") that injected them with different quantities of saline and found that an infusion of only saline mobilizes interstitial protein (albumin) to enter the bloodstream.

My guess is that if plasma donation truly has no effect at all on rejuvenation, it is because the much smaller quantity of plasma dilution achieved during donation vs TPE does not reach whatever threshold might be required to trigger rejuvenative effects. It would be interesting to determine if donating 2x/week (FDA limit for plasma donation) for a period of time might achieve some effect. At that rate, it would take a little over two weeks of plasma donation to exchange as much plasma as one session of TPE. However, stretching it out over that extended period of time might negate any positive effect.

Posted by: Matt at August 21st, 2021 6:15 PM

How about chelation therapy? As I recall, doctors have used the procedure for maybe 40 years.

Posted by: Sam Houston at April 5th, 2023 4:12 AM

I just read an August 2022 article in Springer with the Convoys plasma dillution practice. Very impressed with follow up of isolating and identifying specific protein differences in blood between young and old as well as after the lengthy procedure. Worth a look for those interested in updates

Posted by: Robert Cox at July 19th, 2023 5:52 PM

I'm interested in knowing if there are any MD's that practice plasma dilution on the east coast. Any help would be appreciated.

Posted by: Joe at March 14th, 2024 10:27 AM
Comment Submission

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.