Lipofuscin theory of aging has been known since some time back. The theory is based on the effect that the pigment has on our cells. Yet what is lipofuscin? It is a small granular yellow-brown pigment. It is a mixture of lipid-composed of lysosomal digested that has been leftover. This particular pigment is associated with aging through ‘wear and tear’ that can appear in nerve cells, heart, muscle, kidney, liver, ganglion cells and adrenals. Lipofuscin, does commonly surround the nucleus and it is also a category of lipochrome.
Lipofuscin accumulation as an aging theory focuses on maintaining a positive balance of the substance. The yellow-brown product does accumulate in various cells through aging. The increasing accumulation of lipofuscin in cells, like heart, muscle, nerve, ganglia and nerve cells demarcates aging.
For instance, older people can be found having brown ‘liver spots’ on either their face or hands. These are deposits of lipofuscin. Yet, the pigment isn’t really harmful in the sense that it is not toxic but large clusters of accumulated lipofuscin can hinder cells to function normally. In simple terms the accumulation of the pigment can be considered as stocking of garbage causing internal blockage to the cells.
AGEs are also lipofuscin deposits. The accumulation of those pigments becomes a severe problem once they affect non-dividing (post-mitotic) cells. Among post-mitotic cells we have brain, muscle, cardiac myocytes and mostly nerve cells. It has been identified that lipofuscin accumulated in brain cells seems to have a direct relationship with heavy alcohol consumption. Significant accumulation of lipofuscin in hearts appears black during surgery.
Lipofuscin accumulation can lead to various age-related illnesses. This includes severe health predicaments such as vision loss, macular degeneration, Batten, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, melanosis coli and denervative atrophy and many others.
Protecting or Firewall against Lipofuscin Accumulation
The key to fight against lipofuscin accumulation is to try to avoid oxidative damage. This will reduce the development of lipofuscin. The major additional precaution that should be adopted is to avoid direct exposure to sunlight, wearing sunglasses, which keeps the retina safe from the possible development of druzen or buildup of lipofuscin that can in the long-run cause macular degeneration.
Moreover, the mild overview of how to avoid oxidative damage is to avoid contact with x-rays and microwaves that can cause reactive oxygen species. It is also necessary to remain cautious while dealing with toxic substances. To support the immune system proper diet should be taken where some recommended dietary menus should consists of sardines, broccoli, blueberries, Green Tea and olive oil.
To read further on approaches to protect against oxidative damage,
Read Oxidative Damage
2. Medical Supplement/ Firewalls against lipofuscin accumulation
The commonly mentioned antioxidants are recommended to avoid accumulation of lipofuscin in muscle, heart, brain, kidney and other cells. Alpha-lipoic acid, curcumin and CoQ10 are amidst the commonly used supplements to alleviate lipofuscin accumulation. Yet, Piracetam an additional supplement does apparently avoid the production of lipofuscin in neurons. Two other smart drugs are Meclofenoxate (centrophenoxine) which is a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia, as well as Acetyl-l-carnitine, being a pluripotent antioxidant which is effective in promoting mitochondrial wellbeing.