Reversing Vascular Aging to Combat Age-Related Diseases


At Harvard Medical School, scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of aging and vascular health. The tiniest blood vessels in our bodies, which are crucial for supplying organs and tissues with blood, tend to wither and die as we age. This process significantly reduces blood flow, leading to a myriad of health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, muscle wasting, and general frailty.

However, recent research conducted on mice has shown promising results in reversing this process. These findings set the stage for innovative therapies that could revolutionize how we approach aging and mobility-related health issues in humans.

The Role of Blood Vessels in Aging

Blood vessels, specifically the endothelial cells that line their walls, are vital for maintaining the health and growth of tissues throughout our bodies. As these endothelial cells age, they begin to atrophy and die, leading to a decline in blood flow. This reduced blood supply hits muscles particularly hard, as they rely heavily on a robust blood flow to function effectively.

Regular exercise has been known to slow down the aging of blood vessels and the associated muscle loss. However, over time, even exercise cannot fully prevent the decline in vascular and muscle health. As we get older, our blood vessels become less responsive to signals from our muscles during exercise. This leads to a vicious cycle where muscle shrinking impairs our ability to exercise and promote new blood vessel growth.

Unraveling the Mystery: NAD and SIRT1

The recent study at Harvard has shed light on the complex interactions between blood vessels and muscles, focusing on two key players: NAD, a molecule, and SIRT1, a protein. NAD boosts the activity of SIRT1, which facilitates the crucial communication between muscles and blood vessels. Unfortunately, both NAD and SIRT1 levels decline with age, hindering their ability to maintain this crosstalk.

To counter this decline, researchers administered NMN, a compound known to elevate NAD levels, to aging mice. The results were remarkable. Mice treated with NMN exhibited improved endothelial function, enhanced blood vessel growth, and a better blood supply to their muscles. Most impressively, these treated mice showed up to 80% greater exercise capacity compared to their untreated counterparts.

Implications for Human Health

These findings have significant implications for human health. The ability to restore blood vessel function and improve muscle health in aging populations could benefit millions who struggle with mobility, frailty, or disability. This research opens the door to developing new medications that could rejuvenate blood flow in organs affected by various conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, or dementia.

Imagine a future where age-related decline in physical function can be slowed or even reversed, allowing older adults to maintain their independence and quality of life. The work at Harvard Medical School represents a significant step toward making this vision a reality.


The research into reversing vascular aging at Harvard Medical School offers hope and excitement for the future of healthcare. By understanding and manipulating the intricate relationship between blood vessels and muscles, we can develop groundbreaking therapies that not only extend lifespan but also enhance the quality of life as we age. The journey from mice to human treatments is a challenging one, but the potential rewards are extraordinary.

Stay tuned as we continue to follow the developments in this fascinating field of anti-aging science.