Unlocking the secret to HA & long-life.
The critter in the photo on this page is a female naked mole-rat.9 Cute little gal, isn’t she?
Naked mole-rats live in Africa and they are the source of a very important observation about the health benefits of Hyaluronic Acid. You see, naked mole-rats live for a very long time; up to 32 years “long” in captivity. That is a lot
longer life than most rodents. Mice, for example, only live for about 2 to 3 years in captivity. Not only do naked mole-rats live long lives, but they almost never get cancer. So, they may not be pretty,10 but naked mole-rats have a lot to teach humans. Scientists began to study naked mole-rats to discover their secret to happy, long, cancer-free naked mole-rat life.
Scientists quickly discovered that naked mole-rats have two characteristics that work together to give them long, cancer-free lives. These two characteristics combine to activate processes inside their cells that prolong cell life and that inactivate cellular processes that predispose cells to transforming into cancer cells (Deed, et al., 1997; Fisher, et al., 2015).
First, naked mole-rats have special enzymes that allow them to synthesize very high molecular weight HA molecules, ranging from 0.5 to 3 MDa (Fisher, et al., 2015). (Refer back to the “Hyaluronan is an essential body molecule” section for a reminder about molecular weight.) These high molecular weight HA molecules are thought to bind to cell proteins and modulate their functions inside cells in order to increase how long a cell survives before being replaced (Tian, et al., 2013). Unfortunately, humans do not share this type of enzyme, so we must get our high molecular weight HA in some other way.
Second, naked mole-rats have a second set of special enzymes that affect a chemical process called oxidation (Lewis, et al., 2013). Oxidation is thought to be an important reason why people age and cells turn cancerous. The second set of special enzymes reduces oxidation (Takasugi, et al., 2020). This anti-oxidation effect, combined with the intracellular functions of extremely high molecular weight HA, give the naked mole-rat a long-life, anti-cancer benefit. Scientists think that both processes are must work together for the naked mole-rat to live long and be cancer-free (Lewis, et al., 2013).
9https://on.natgeo.com/3fJO5l5 and https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/naked-mole-rat-cam
10Who says we’re not pretty?”, asks the naked mole-rat.
So, what is the lesson that humans can learn from naked mole-rats? Humans cannot change the types of enzymes that our cells produce but we can imitate the effect of high molecular weight HA by supplementing our diets with high molecular weight Hyaluronic Acid. We also can reduce the oxidants produced by our bodies by eating an antioxidant-rich diet. (Refer back to the “Hyaluronan is an essential bodily molecule” section for a reminder about an antioxidant diet.)
This is part of the scientific rationale that drove Dr. Kiburz to begin advising his patients to take an oral HA supplement and to develop HA-TOPSHELF, which contains high molecular weight HA and meets his quality standards. As you will see in the rest of this book, pure, high molecular weight oral HA supplements might contribute to helping people to replicate the naked mole-rat’s long-life and anti-cancer advantage.