Longevity implies “long life” or “long life expectancy.” Research continues to investigate ways to prolong life by looking at cellular DNA and cell functions. It is known that the aging process can be partially controlled, delaying the process and reducing the risk of undesirable health conditions by taking a biomedical approach. It has been suggested that one of the favorable ways is to investigate and focus on the Sirtuin proteins (Grabowska W et al, 2017).

What are Sirtuins?

Sirtuins are proteins that help to regulate cellular function and play an essential role in keeping the cell balanced, which is called cell homeostasis. The sirtuin group is made up of 7 proteins: SIRT1-7 (Grabowska W et al, 2017).

Sirtuins operate in the presence of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is a cofactor found in all cells. Therefore, in order for sirtuins to work properly they need to have maintained levels of NAD+. It is known that NAD+ declines as one ages.

How do Sirtuins work?

Within the cell the sirtuins are split up to work in different areas. Three operate in the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell where energy is produced. Cell signaling and cell survival also occur in the mitochondria and when there is dysfunction, it causes faster aging and health conditions. Sirtuins play an important role in helping to promote cell mitochondrial health to prolong the aging process (Osborne B et al, 2016). There are also three sirtuins that function in the cell’s nucleus and one operates in the cytoplasm.

Sirtuins are available to help rescue cells when there is oxidative stress and when compounds attack cells and damage the genetic information within a cell causing mutations.

How do Sirtuins help the body?

Individual sirtuins have been shown to have different effects in the human body (Matsushima S, Sadoshima J et al, 2015). For example, when Sirt2 is downregulated it protects the cardiac muscle tissue. When a process is downregulated, it suppresses a response to stimulation and may reduce the number of receptors available. The expression of Sirt3 is associated with lifespan and also protects heart muscle cells from aging and against oxidative stress. Sirt 6 has also been shown to benefit heart muscle tissue and Sirt7. Sirt1 and Sirt3 are expressed in the brain among other areas of the body and have been shown to help promote neurons involved in neurological functions.

How do you activate Sirtuins?

In research, the objective is to find sirtuin activators with the hope of finding natural ways. A restricted calorie diet has been studied for years and is believed to be one of the best ways to slow down aging. Exercise also has been studied and has been shown to be supportive. It has been proposed that both calorie restriction and exercise have an effect on sirtuins promoting life span. (Corbi B et al, 2012; Guarente, 2012).

Certain foods that are thought to increase Sirtuin levels in the body include kale, strawberries, extra virgin olive oil, red wine, soy, walnuts, and onions (Pallauf K et al, 2013).

Natural supplements such as curcumin have been investigated and proposed to be a Sirt activator (Grabowska W et al, 2017). It has been shown in different species that resveratrol activates Sirt1 to help to prolong life (Duan W, 2013).

The other goal is to find compounds that boost NAD+ since it is necessary for sirtuins to do their job.

In summary, sirtuins have a role to play in supporting longevity. Slowing the aging process may be accomplished with dietary measures, exercise and natural supplements to help promote sirtuins at the cell level. Maintaining NAD+ levels are also important to allow sirtuins to perform their work.