First human clinical trial suggests anti-ageing benefits of pomegranate molecule

By Nikki Cutler

- Last updated on GMT

istock | pomegranate
istock | pomegranate
A first in-human clinical trial has suggested that dietary supplementation with Urolithin A, a pomegranate metabolite, could offer an anti-ageing benefit thanks to its impact on mitochondrial and cellular health.

The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, by life science company Amazentis and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) has provided evidence that Amazentis' lead product, Urolithin A (UA), is safe, bioavailable and improves mitochondrial and cellular health in humans.

Urolithin A (UA) is the compound created in in the human gut when ellagitannins molecules, a class of compounds found in the pomegranate and other fruits and nuts, are ingested.

Roger Fielding, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Nutrition and Associate Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, commented: “There are currently no effective solutions to treat age-related decline in muscle function other than months of exercise. This is an important first clinical validation that shows Urolithin A could be a promising solution for the management of healthy muscle function during ageing.”

Johan Auwerx, MD, PhD, co-author and Professor at the EPFL, added: “This positive clinical translation of Urolithin A shows its potential to play an important role in advanced nutritional approaches to improve mitochondrial health through mitophagy and biogenesis, and, as a result, cellular health in humans.” 

In the study, 60 elderly and sedentary but healthy  were split into four groups, each receiving a placebo, or a 250, 500 or 1,000 mg daily dose of UA for 28 days.

The team then assessed the efficacy of UA by looking at cellular and mitochondrial health biomarkers in the participants' blood and muscle tissue.

The report, published in the journal Nature Metabolism​, suggests that UA could slow down this process by improving the functioning of mitochondria - the cells' powerhouses.

UA is the only known compound that re-establishes cells' ability to recycle defective mitochondria. In young people, this process happens naturally. But as we age, our body starts to lose its power to clean up dysfunctional mitochondria, causing sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass) and the weakening of other tissues.

Modulating mitochondria

Amazentis is an École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) spin-off based at EPFL's Innovation Park. Amazentis’ proprietary lead product candidate is an oral formulation of Urolithin A.

Urolithin A is a microflora-derived metabolite of ellagitannins, a class of compounds found in the pomegranate and other fruits and nuts.

The firm hopes to harness the promising results to quickly bring the product to market.

Nestlé Health Science recently announced a global partnership with Amazentis to develop products containing UA to pursue opportunities in consumer healthcare and medical nutrition.

Source: Nature Metabolism

Andreux. P.A. et al

“The mitophagy activator urolithin A is safe and induces a molecular signature of improved mitochondrial and cellular health in humans”  

DOI: 10.1038/s42255-019-0073-4

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