Published in Science.

As adults, we need our stem cells to maintain and regenerate our body’s tissues. We also need healthy mitochondria to provide our cells with energy. Yet as we age, our stem cells and mitochondria gradually stop functioning as efficiently as they did when we were younger. In this study, researchers demonstrated the importance of NAD, an oxidized enzyme essential for powering cellular energy, and its effect on mitochondrial and stem cell activity.

The researchers treated mice with NR, the enzyme needed to make NAD. The result was that it rejuvenated muscular stem cells in aging mice. Administering NR also delayed degeneration of stems cells in the skin and nervous system, and increased mouse life span. Plus, NR prevented muscular stem cell decline in a mouse model for muscular dystrophy. The researchers theorized that building on these findings may one day lead to the ability to reprogram dysfunctional stem cells and improve life span in mammals.

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