A new nutraceutical supplement shows potential to reinvigorate our own stem cells and prevent age-related mitochondrial deterioration, raising the question: is NAD+ a stem cell therapy? Renowned Harvard researcher Dr. David Sinclair has brought the compound NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) into the mainstream spotlight with his recent research. His team demonstrated that NAD+ helps reverse age-related muscle and DNA damage, while improving mitochondrial function. The DNA protection coupled with strong mitochondrial performance helps keep stem cells alive and replicating at optimal rates.
What is NAD+ ?
NAD+ is a naturally occuring compound in the body know as a coenzyme and is heavily involved in mitochondrial (the cells power plant) function including energy creation and cellular repair. As humans age, we lose mitochondrial function. This fact, has spurred research into mitochondrial health and supplements or drugs that could potentially reverse and restore our own mitochondria. The precursor of NAD+ is Nicotinamide Riboside (a form of vitamin B3) that greatly increases NAD+ levels in our bodies. Nutraceutical supplements that contain Nicotinamide Riboside have just arrived on the market with great interest in the health and anti-aging communities. NAD+ compounds could potentially help prevent and treat age-related conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases that are associated with aging.
The short answer is we simply do not know quite yet. We know that supplementation that increases NAD+ in mice also increases stem cell function, proliferation, and differentiation. This is strongly believed to be through stem cells connection to mitochondria, which NAD+ is helping restore. As we age, our bodies are continuously turning over all types of cells and repairing damages. Stem cells that are localized in the area of damage migrate into the site of injury and help repair the tissue. When we get older, we have less and less stem cells that are available to help out for repair. Thus, our bodies begin to heal much slower and we start to break down and degenerate. NAD+ has been shown to increase stem cells in mice resulting in better muscle repair and less damage to DNA. In fact, Dr. Sinclair’s team showed that NAD+ supplementation reversed age related effects of a 2 year old mouse back into a 3-4 month old mouse. If this translates into humans, it would be the equivalent of an 80 year old returning to a 40 year olds cells. This is the big “if” and many researchers are in the process of testing and publishing human trials on NAD+ currently.
Top level scientists including Harvard researchers and nobel prize laureates are continuing research on NAD+ as it relates to longevity, mitochondrial function, DNA repair, and stem cell health. Cellular and animal studies look extremely promising and have clearly demonstrated NAD+’s positive effects. The next phase of research is taking place right now with many human trials under way. Some scientists and patients have already jumped on the bandwagon and begun to take NAD+ precursors in hope that the science will catch up and support its human usage. We can not definitively say what will happen in human bodies, but the risk is quite minimal due to its very safe profile, availability, and relatively low cost. Patients looking for added effectiveness of stem cell therapy could give NAD+ supplementation a try.