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Longevity Briefs: The Anti-ageing Interaction of Melatonin & MicroRNA

Posted on 9 September 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Melatonin is a hormone which primarily acts in the brain and is well known for causing and regulating sleep. Melatonin is most commonly used as a supplement to normalise abnormal sleep patterns. However, recent research has revealed that taking the supplement is associated with reduced risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

Soon after this discovery, it was established that microRNAs, a family of small, non-coding RNA molecules, played an important role in regulating these beneficial effects. More specifically, their dysregulation has been shown to be pivotal in the development of neurological disorders.

What did the researchers do: A group of researchers decided to take a dive into the literature which investigates the supposed anti-ageing qualities of this widely taken supplement, and it’s interaction with microRNA.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The researchers concluded that melatonin modulated the dysregulation of a wide variety of microRNAs. This resulted in the anti-ageing effects impact of melatonin being expressed in three major ways:

  1. As a powerful antioxidant, negating the impact of cancer-causing molecules in the body
  2. By stimulating a process called mitophagy. This is the recycling of damaged mitochondria, cellular structures which generate chemical energy, which reduces mitochondrial dysfunction, a hallmark of ageing
  3. Improving sleep cycles, which helps to mitigate age-related sleep disorders

This interesting assessment of the interaction between microRNAs and melatonin could lay the ground-work of promising therapeutic strategies to slow down the aging process in the nervous system.

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