Researchers have discovered that the hypertension drug rilmenidine can extend lifespan and slow aging.
New research findings, published on January 20 in the journal Aging Cell, show that animals treated with rilmenidine, currently used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), at young and older ages increase lifespan and improve health markers, mimicking the effects of caloric restriction. Rilmenidine, which is a prescription medication, is marketed under the brand names Albarel, Hyperium, Iterium, and Tenaxum.
They also demonstrate that the healthspan and lifespan benefits of rilmenidine treatment in the roundworm C. elegans are mediated by the I1-imidazoline receptor nish-1, identifying this receptor as a potential longevity target.
Unlike other drugs previously studied for this purpose by the researchers, the widely-prescribed, oral antihypertensive rilmenidine has the potential for future translatability to humans as side effects are rare and non-severe.
To date, a caloric restriction diet has been considered the most robust anti-aging intervention, promoting longevity across species. However, studies of caloric restriction in humans have had mixed results and side effects, meaning finding medications like rilmenidine that can mimic the benefits of caloric restriction is the most reasonable anti-aging strategy.
Professor João Pedro Magalhães, who led the research whilst at the University of Liverpool and is now based at the University of Birmingham, said: “With a global aging population, the benefits of delaying aging, even if slightly, are immense. Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and healthspan has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience. For the first time, we have been able to show in animals that rilmenidine can increase lifespan. We are now keen to explore if rilmenidine may have other clinical applications.”
Reference: “Rilmenidine extends lifespan and healthspan in Caenorhabditis elegans via a nischarin I1-imidazoline receptor” by Dominic F. Bennett, Anita Goyala, Cyril Statzer, Charles W. Beckett, Alexander Tyshkovskiy, Vadim N. Gladyshev, Collin Y. Ewald and João Pedro de Magalhães, 20 January 2023, Aging Cell.
This study was undertaken by researchers from the University of Liverpool, ETH Zürich, and Harvard Medical School, and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, LongeCity, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.