Scientists say a hormone associated with longevity also makes people smarter. It helps people live longer. It fights atherosclerosis, and naturally lowers high blood pressure. This hormone you probably have never hear of is klotho, the brain hormone
In Greek mythology, Clotho was one of the three Fates. Typically depicted as a young woman, Clotho's special gift was the ability to spin the thread of human life. A hormone given a similar name seems to have similar functions in the human brain.
Klotho is a gene that encodes the manufacture of a protein of the same name. Its epinomynous chemical is a "transmembrane" protein, extending like a thread both inside and outside a human cell. The hormone can also be found in the bloodstream, secreted by the cells that make it. It helps brain cells maintain their connections to each other, and also helps the brain preserve the stem cells it needs to repair itself.
The functions of the klotho protein in other parts of the body are to maintain the youth and life of stem cells. All of us have a certain number of stem cells that our bodies can use to make any kind of cell we need, all through out lives. When there is a deficiency of klotho, stem cells age and die. Without stem cells, the body cannot repair its tissues. Deficiencies of klotho can cause cells to enter a state called senescence. These cells can no longer reproduce themselves as they age and deteriorate.
The mere existence of a senescent cell activates the immune system to remove it and the cells surrounding it as if they were infected or cancerous, even though they are still functional. Without klotho, tissues die, especially in the brain, and the entire organism dies.
A Link Between Genes And Life Experiences
The klotho protein seems to protect cells from life experiences, but it also seems to be depleted by stress. A study of mothers of autistic children found that they had lower levels of klotho than other women of the same age who had children who were not developmentally challenged. Stressful experiences reduce the amount of klotho in the bloodstream, and the effects are cumulative. The longer someone is stressed, the lower the levels of this hormone that protects against aging.
What are the effects of declining levels of klotho in the bloodstream? Some of them are obvious. The melanocytes that produce the pigment that gives hair its color are preserved by klotho. When klotho is deficient, the melanocytes grow old and die, and hair turns gray. This the reason that a shocking or extremely stressful experience can cause hair to gray very quickly.
Some of the effects of declining levels of klotho are not as obvious. A young adult's brain has a supply of stem cells that can create new neurons when the brain is damaged. Without klotho, however, the stem cells begin to age, and fail to replace themselves. As a result, the brain cannot repair itself as easily when it is injured later in life.
Klotho preserves the ability of cells to detect and repair damaged proteins. With klotho, a cell can stop making new proteins long enough to repair defective ones. To a certain extent, it can also repair DNA. When klotho is deficient, cells cannot as readily stop the processes that make them cancerous, and cancerous tumors grow more rapidly.
An Important Regulator Of Vitamin D
Chances are you have heard about the many uses of vitamin D in the human body. Vitamin D not only helps the body use calcium, it also helps regulate the release of hormones such as insulin. Without klotho, vitamin D becomes "overactive," moving more calcium than it should, with distrastrous results for bone and kidney health.