Consuming Oleuropein May Mitigate the Effects of Aging on Muscular Atrophy

New research purports to demonstrate that aged mice which ate a diet supplemented with olive leaf extract rich in oleuropein increased muscle mass.
Consuming olive leaf extract could reduce the effects of aging on muscles.
By Thomas Sechehaye
Jul. 13, 2023 13:41 UTC

New research from the University of Padova in Italy and the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences sug­gests that con­sum­ing olive leaf extract could reduce the effects of aging on mus­cles.

The study, pub­lished as a pre-print on BioRxiv, mean­ing it has not been peer-reviewed yet, found that aged mice fed dietary olive leaf extract with oleu­ropein demon­strated improved cal­cium uptake. This enhanced mito­chon­dr­ial func­tion, allow­ing the mice to run longer and increas­ing their mus­cle mass.

The study would be the first to show that mito­chon­dria func­tion­ing can be tar­geted directly with mol­e­cules nat­u­rally found in olives and olive leaves. Mitochondria are cell organelles that use aer­o­bic res­pi­ra­tion to gen­er­ate chem­i­cal energy used through­out the cell.

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According to pre­vi­ous research, cal­cium uptake in mito­chon­dria declines dur­ing aging. This likely con­tributes to sar­cope­nia, a type of mus­cle loss that nat­u­rally occurs in the aging process.

The researchers said the study serves as a good first step in deter­min­ing the ther­a­peu­tic value of oleu­ropein for sar­cope­nia and other types of mus­cle atro­phy.

The min­eral cal­cium is involved in all skele­tal mus­cle con­trac­tion, and the authors state that they are the first to dis­cover that a decrease in cal­cium uptake by the mito­chon­dria con­tributes to the mito­chon­dr­ial decline asso­ci­ated with aging,” Mary M. Flynn, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine and founder of the Olive Oil Health Initiative of the Miriam Hospital at Brown University, told Olive Oil Times.

They screened sev­eral polyphe­nols and found that oleu­ropein could bind at the site where the cal­cium would enter the mito­chon­dria, which then allows the cal­cium to enter the cell, thus avoid­ing the mito­chon­dr­ial decline, and this was shown to improve and allow mito­chon­dr­ial activ­ity (or use of oxy­gen to pro­duce energy) to hap­pen,” she added.

According to Simon Poole, a physi­cian, author and nutri­tion instruc­tor for the Olive Oil Times Sommelier Certification Program, the research could add to the com­pendium of known olive oil health ben­e­fits. However, he warned that results from stud­ies in mice can­not be auto­mat­i­cally trans­lated to humans.

This study adds to the expand­ing data­base of research which shows poten­tial ben­e­fi­cial effects of olive tree polyphe­nols such as oleu­ropein on cel­lu­lar struc­tures includ­ing mito­chon­dria, and by impli­ca­tion on cell aging,” he said.

It is impor­tant to remain cau­tious when con­sid­er­ing results from ani­mal stud­ies and also where extracts of nat­u­rally occur­ring com­pounds are used,” Poole added. It is often dif­fi­cult to repli­cate study results when using sup­ple­ments in humans, espe­cially when researchers are look­ing for mea­sur­able health out­comes.”

Based on the dosages given to the mice by researchers, Flynn said the study could be recre­ated in humans.

Research like this has to start in ani­mals, and how that will then trans­late to humans is not known,“ Flynn said. If the same effect (i.e., halt­ing the nat­ural decline in mito­chon­dr­ial activ­ity with aging) could be shown in humans, that would have very inter­est­ing impli­ca­tions.”

The study was in mice, and they used a dose of 40 per­cent oleu­ropein at 50 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram and found ben­e­fit,” she added. Using the same dose in a human exper­i­ment, per 45.4 kilo­grams (100 lbs), that would be 2,270 mil­ligrams or 2 grams of oleu­ropein per 100 lbs,” she said. That does not sound like a lot, so it may be doable.”

Poole con­cluded that regard­less of the next steps in the research, the study demon­strated that polyphe­nols have more pro­found health impacts than reduc­ing inflam­ma­tion and oxi­da­tions.

This study does, how­ever, rep­re­sent more intrigu­ing evi­dence to sup­port the notion that polyphe­nol com­pounds pro­duced by the olive tree may have bio­log­i­cal effects not only on path­ways of inflam­ma­tion and oxi­da­tion but also on the struc­tures that power much of the bio­chem­istry of cells,” he said.


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