The Klotho protein, which was discovered in 1997, was first noticed in transgenic mice. There is a mutation that showed up on this protein. This mutation indicated faster aging and ultimately a shorter lifespan. The four-week-old mice showed many premature signs of aging, as well organ atrophy, infertility, sarcopenia, hearing impairment, heart issues, and motor neuronal degeneration.
Male mice who had an overexpression of the Klotho gene survived 31 percent longer and the female mice with overexpression survived 19 percent longer compared to those of the “wild type”. This hormone tends to bind to membrane receptors and it represses intracellular signals of a certain insulin-like growth factor. The protein’s unique ability to inhibit this is part of what leads to its life extension properties.
There are three types of Klotho proteins in mice and humans. They are the intracellular, secretory, and cell membrane-related forms. One of the benefits associated with the cell membrane, also known as transmembrane Klotho, is that it’s involved in renal (kidneys) metabolism of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphates. In turn, the vitamin and minerals are more readily broken down into the animal’s system. This means easier absorption and better overall health.
When mice lack the Klotho gene (which is known as KL-KO), they tend to exhibit difficulty in memorizing and learning during early adulthood. Overexpression of this in mice is characterized by better performance on memory tasks and significantly better cognitive functioning. Since the Klotho gene activates a certain receptor in the brain, it promotes long-term potentiation, leading to improved memory and learning abilities.
The Klotho protein has a connection with neurodegenerative diseases. The main indication is that Klotho activates the antioxidant enzyme system. It’s necessary for the myelin of the brain that serves as insulation around nerve fibers and increases the speed of impulses. Patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who took medication targeted towards overactive immune response tended to have higher amounts of Klotho protein in their systems than otherwise. The medication may have directly caused this, or it could be due to the fact that the patient had a regeneration of their nervous system and vitamin D symbiosis.
The applications for use of the Klotho protein as a treatment to bring about improvements in MS patients are only in the beginning stages. There’s still a great deal to learn, and it is certain to lead to amazing things.