NIH-funded longevity study shows astaxanthin extends lifespan

Research from Interventions Testing Program represents advance in longevity supplements field.

AX3 Life, a longevity supplements company based in Honolulu, Hawaii, has announced the results of a study evaluating its astaxanthin supplement.

The study was carried out by the Interventions Testing Program (ITP), a peer-reviewed program supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and investigated AX3 Bio-Pure Astaxanthin, a supplement designed to fight inflammaging and other hallmarks of aging to improve lifespan and healthspan.

Full study results were published on 2 December in GeroScience following presentation of top-line study results earlier this year at the ONEFUTURE summit.

Longevity.Technology: The ITP is a gold standard in longevity research, using lifespan as its primary endpoint. Recognizing the impracticality of directly studying human lifespan due to its length, the ITP strategically focuses on conducting comprehensive lifespan studies in laboratory mice. This model system allows researchers to observe and analyze the effects of various interventions in a relatively short span, providing valuable insights that can be extrapolated to understand potential impacts on human aging.

The ITP selects promising compounds, drugs, or other interventions that have shown potential in extending lifespan in preliminary studies. These interventions often target fundamental aging processes, such as oxidative stress, inflammation and metabolic dysfunction. By subjecting these interventions to rigorous testing in a controlled environment, the ITP aims to identify interventions that consistently demonstrate the ability to enhance lifespan.

Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid red pigment with antioxidant properties, synthesized by microalgae, fungi and certain marine organisms as a defense mechanism against oxidative stress caused by UV light from the sun; it is responsible for the pink and red color of salmon and shrimp. As a powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin neutralizes reactive oxygen species, mitigating oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Its unique molecular structure allows it to span the cell membrane, providing protection to both the lipid and aqueous regions of cells, and research suggests that astaxanthin’s antioxidant capabilities contribute to cellular health and may play a role in extending lifespan by reducing oxidative damage to cellular components. Additionally, astaxanthin has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, influencing pathways associated with aging and age-related diseases.

Astaxanthin has also been shown to increase lifespan in several non-mammalian model organisms (yeast, roundworms, fruit flies), and the ITP has now extended this finding to mammals (mice) as a result of the latest study.

NIH-funded longevity study shows astaxanthin extends lifespan

Results of the multi-year study demonstrated that AX3 Bio-Pure Astaxanthin
extended the median lifespan of male mice by 12% with strong statistical significance
(p=0.003). Dosing started when the mice were middle aged and showed a consistent survival benefit versus control animals throughout their lifespans [1].

The paper’s authors note that oxidative stress and chronic inflammation may play an important role in aging and age-related diseases and that astaxanthin is a promising longevity candidate due to its “potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, favorable localization in mitochondria and other cellular membranes throughout the body, and excellent safety profile [1].”

The authors also make the point that while a limited number of interventions, such as rapamycin, have shown efficacy in ITP studies, it is important to find agents with safety and tolerability profiles that support chronic clinical use; the paper suggests astaxanthin may fit the bill, given that its benefits may extend to cardiovascular, neurological and other forms of age-dependent disease [1].

“This study provides a new pathway in the quest to advance human longevity, because
astaxanthin is the first agent in the ITP’s 20-year history to demonstrate a greater than 10% increase in lifespan that is also exceptionally safe for chronic use and broadly accessible as a dietary supplement,” said Dave Watumull, AX3 Life Co-Founder and CEO and co-author of the GeroScience paper.

Watumull added that he felt the study underscored why astaxanthin should be a key part of “everyone’s longevity regimen”.

“After 25 years of working to advance the research and development of astaxanthin, we are
thrilled to see astaxanthin’s utility for longevity demonstrated in this very reputable, independent study,” said David Watumull, AX3 Life Co-Founder and paper co-author.

“Our mission is to help people live longer, healthier lives, and if you extrapolate these results to humans, it could translate to a median lifespan increase of nearly a decade, showing the power astaxanthin may have to transform lives.”

[1] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11357-023-01011-0

Photographs courtesy of AX3 Life / Shutterstock