The Science

Steady progress is being made in understanding the fundamental science driving the biological processes of aging. Here we explore further into several key topics related to cell life cycles and aging. 

Cell & muscle health: what happens after you hit your prime?

Science tells us that after the third decade of life, our cells begin to undergo a shift in their metabolism that is a function of both lifestyle choices and simply getting older. The mitochondria, an organelle that acts as the power generator inside of our cells – including muscle cells – start to become less efficient.

This decrease in cellular energy leads to a reduction in cellular function, and in the case of the cells in our skeletal muscles, it can eventually lead to the progressive decline in muscle function. Regardless of age, everyone can invest in better cellular health and hence muscle health.

Mitochondria and mitophagy - what are they & why do they matter?

Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles – small cellular structures that perform specific functions within a cell. Their task is to generate energy for the innumerable processes taking place inside your cells, which is why they are known as the “powerhouse” of the cell.

Over time and with a sedentary lifestyle, our cells experience a natural decline in mitochondrial function. Taking the right steps, such as engaging in regular exercise and consuming an optimal diet, can contribute to giving our muscle cells more energy again by boosting mitochondrial health.

One of the main causes of aging is a decline in mitochondrial health. Our cells protect themselves from this decline by stimulating the selective recycling of old or damaged mitochondria into new, healthy ones. This process is known as mitophagy. It’s a natural process inside of our cells to clean up defective and unhealthy mitochondria. Mitophagy becomes less efficient as we age. Urolithin A is a known mitophagy activator and its benefits on mitochondrial health are conserved across different species, including C. elegans, rodents, and in human cells.

1Ryu, D. et al. Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nat. Med. 22, 879–888 (2016).

Natural origins of Urolithin A

Urolithin A is a natural metabolite that comes from certain foods that include pomegranates as well as several types of nuts and berries. Urolithin A allows our cells to protect themselves from one of the main causes of aging by stimulating mitophagy, a naturally occurring process in our cells that gets less efficient with age.1

Certain foods, such as pomegranates, contain a class of compounds called ellagitannins that undergo a biotransformation into Urolithin A by the bacteria living inside our intestine. However, this process is not efficient enough to provide adequate levels of Urolithin A through diet alone. In fact, it is estimated that only 1 in 3 people have the right gut bacteria to perform this transformation into Urolithin A and with varying efficiency.2

Ryu, D. et al. Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nat. Med. 22, 879–888 (2016).

2 Garcia-Villalba R. et al. Gastrointestinal Simulation Model TWIN-SHIME Shows Differences between Human Urolithin-Metabotypes in Gut Microbiota Composition, Pomegranate Polyphenol Metabolism, and Transport along the Intestinal Tract.

Clinical studies and research

Urolithin A is the first natural bioactive to activate mitophagy that has been evaluated in humans. Research in the laboratory of Professor Johan Auwerx at the EPFL in Switzerland has demonstrated that Urolithin A extends the lifespan of C. elegans worms by about 50%. Evaluation in mice has shown it improves natural running by over 50% and endurance running by greater than 40%.1

The safety of urolithin A has been extensively evaluated to support its use in humans for nutritional supplementation without any adverse effects.2

Urolithin A has been recently evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in humans, where it has been shown to be safe and well tolerated. Regular Urolithin A supplementation increased the gene expression of mitochondrial biomarkers in human skeletal muscle and improved systemic blood biomarkers of fatty acid oxidation. The results of this clinical trial show that Urolithin A supports mitochondrial health in the skeletal muscle.3

Additional long-term nutritional interventional clinical studies of Urolithin A are underway in adults to further understand the range of health benefits it provides when consumed on a regular basis.

1 Ryu, D. et al. Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nat. Med. 22, 879–888 (2016).

2 Heilman, J. et al. Safety assessment of Urolithin A, a metabolite produced by the human gut microbiota upon dietary intake of plant derived ellagitannins and ellagic acid. Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Oct;108(Pt A):289-297. Epub 2017 Jul 27.

3 Singh, A. et al. Orally administered urolithin a is safe and modulates muscle and mitochondrial biomarkers in elderly. Innovation in Aging 1, 1223–1224 (2017).

Close Menu

Would you like to get updates about Urolithin A?

Feel free to share your contact details below.






* required field