You probably associate getting older with a loss of energy. And on the molecular level, this is quite literally true, because one of the hallmarks of aging is mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria are often referred to as “the powerhouse of the cell,” because they convert nutrients from the food we eat into usable energy, in the form of ATP. But as we age, mitochondria become less effective at generating the energy we need for various chemical processes.
So why does this happen? As with most things in biology, there are definitely multiple factors at work here. But one likely reason is a failure of quality control. As we age, mitochondrial autophagy (aka mitophagy) declines, and our body starts to accumulate broken and dysfunctional mitochondria. This becomes most obvious in tissues that consume a lot of energy, like skeletal muscle. Hence, mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to poor muscular strength in older people. If we could find a way to ramp up mitophagy, perhaps we could retain excellent mitochondrial function throughout our golden years.
That brings us to our guest. In this episode of humanOS Radio, we welcome Dr. Davide D’Amico to the show. Davide is a research scientist in the field of metabolism and aging. He was previously a post-doc at the Auwerx Laboratory of Integrative Systems Physiology at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he investigated the role of mitochondrial function in health, disease, and the aging process.
In this interview, we discuss a recently published study from his team, which revealed one of the molecular mechanisms through which defective mitochondria accumulate in cells. Additionally, Davide is a scientific project manager at Amazentis, where he is investigating a naturally derived bioactive from pomegranate, that has been shown in a new clinical trial to reverse age-related decline in mitochondrial function in the muscles of older people. Please check out the interview to learn more about this exciting research!