Peptide Primer 4: Epitalon (Epithalamin) and Telomeres

June 03, 2019

ReferencesSelf-HackedWikipediaNeuro Endocrin LettersBull Exp Med Biol.,

Ready for real shocker! Want to lengthen your telomeres? Do you know what telomeres are? Here we go. (Do you trust Russian research?) 

Epithalamin is a peptide found in the pineal gland of calves. It was discovered at the St. Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology by Vladimir Khavinson. It breaks down ever so easily so was altered to the new peptide called Epitalon which is only 4 amino acids long: Ala-Glu-Asp-Gly. This gets digested ever so easily in your stomach so has to be given IV or IM. But note, this is not a natural peptide but a slight modification of the original. That is not to take away from its effects, but this one isn't natural. It's just very simple.

What are telomeres? They are the tail ends of your chromosomes that are gradually used up as stem cells duplicate. The protein that duplicates DNA has a certain number of base pairs left inside it when it finishes copying DNA that then gets chopped off the end when it is done. The net effect is that cells can only duplicate so many times. That is called the Hayflick limit. It predicts that humans can only live to be about 120. Extending the Hayflick limit is the Holy Grail of anti-aging. Things like exercise, fasting, good sleep, stress control, less sugar all help extend the Hayflick limit. But not as much as we would like. 

This is where Epitalon comes in. This was Khavinson's first work. He showed that Epitalon extended human fibroblast telomere proliferation from expected termination at the 34th generation up to the 44th generation, making the treated cells have telomeres as long as original cells. Khavinson compared epitalon to epithalamin and found them to be equivalent in effect. And he conducted a prospective human cohort study in humans with 266 folks given epithalamin. Over the next 6 years, there was a 1.6-1.8 reduction in mortality with just one treatment. If combined with another peptide, thymulin, and treated annually, over the subsequent 6 years he reported a 4.1 fold reduction in mortality. 

In another study of 79 coronary artery disease patients given 3 years of biannual epitalon treatment they had a 50% reduction in cardiovascular mortality and 28% reduction in overall mortality. These numbers are huge but are based on a tiny cohort. Just one or two deaths would make gigantic changes in the numbers.

Is there a feasible mechanism that explains these potentially huge results? Yes, possibly. It appears that epitalon has the effect of increasing the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a potentially awesome cancer fighter. It also helps you sleep and get better rest. We make much less of it as we age. In one study involving 14 elderly humans, Epitalon improved melatonin back to youthful levels. There is likely also a corroborative effect on the production of T cells, which are cancer fighters. There are now multiple rat studies showing dramatic reductions in cancer spread and size with epitalon. Human studies? Not so much. 

Whoa, Nellie! These are over the top, too good to be true studies. And all from Russia. Do we trust the Russians? Is medicine a different forum than election politics? Does the FDA approve? What would you do?

WWW: What will work for me? I have tried every peptide on myself before writing about them. At least so far. I have heard from one of my faculty that he gives epitalon twice a year to all his serious anti-aging clients. (For the last year.). As in, just one year - so no long term experience. What's a serious, ethical, honest scientist to do? I think every one of us has the right to make our own choices. Doctors have the obligation to first do no harm. To be sure of that, we should be following research-based evidence. Let's see what research emerges. I'm staying tuned.

Pop Quiz

  1. Epitalon is a natural peptide. T or F. Answer: False. It is a modification of epithalamin which is a natural pineal peptide from calves. It has been reported to be equivalent to epthalamin.
  2. What is epitalon purported to do? Answer: Increase the length of telomeres and increase the production of melatonin. Those two may be linked.
  3. What has been shown to be the effect of epitalon in Russian elderly folks when combined with thymulin and given twice a year? Answer: An 80% reduction in mortality.
  4. How much longer do mice and rats live, given epitalon? Answer: Not fair. Not in the note above but if you read all the references: roughly 30% longer lifespans.
  5. Epitalon is FDA approved? Answer: No.