During the past few years, the Klotho protein has been a significant area of focus among medical researchers because of its potential to reduce the effects of aging. The gene is responsible for encoding a protein that spans the entire cellular membrane. Most of the protein is on the outside of the cell, while the intracellular portion is relatively small. The protein exists in numerous forms, showing that its structure can be altered to meet the needs of that specific cell.
There is a full-length form found in the membrane, usually shortened to mKl, and a soluble form, which is called sKl.
sKl can be found in numerous body fluids including the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), urine, and blood. The protein performs a wide variety of functions, including the regulation of ion channels and growth factor signaling. To this point, how the protein performs these functions has been somewhat of a mystery. Some researchers have compared the action of the protein to a hormone. The protein binds to a specific receptor that recognizes it before exerting its effects.
The kidneys are among the most common sources of sKl. Researchers have discovered this because in people with kidney problems, the levels of sKl are much lower. Furthermore, researchers have found that when people with kidney disease have lower levels of sKl, they have a much higher chance of developing heart disease.
Researchers have discovered that mKl, the membrane protein, binds to FGF (fibroblast growth factor receptors) to control the regulation of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphate. These electrolytes and ions are responsible for taking care of the body’s bones and muscular tissues. While researchers have known how mKl functions for some time, sKl has been a more recent area of research. sKl circulates throughout the body, and studies have discovered that sKl exerts its effects on numerous other proteins throughout the body to suppress aging and increase resistance to oxidative stress. Therefore, this could be a potential therapeutic target for researchers down the road.
Even though researchers have been hard at work trying to uncover the mechanism of action of soluble Klotho protein, there is still a lot of research that has to be done before new medications can be developed. It will be interesting to see if future research study better elucidate the relationship between soluble Klotho protein and its potential anti-aging impacts.