Kelvin Yen, Junxiang Wan, Hemal H. Mehta, Brendan Miller, Amy Christensen, Morgan E. Levine, Matthew P. Salomon, Sebastian Brandhorst, Jialin Xiao, Su-Jeong Kim, Gerardo Navarrete, Daniel Campo, G. Jean Harry, Valter Longo, Christian J. Pike,
Wendy J. Mack, Howard N. Hodis, Eileen M. Crimmins & Pinchas Cohen
Advanced age is associated with a decline in cognitive function, likely caused by a combination of modifiable and non-modifiable factors such as genetics and lifestyle choices. Mounting evidence suggests that humanin and other mitochondrial derived peptides play a role in several age-related conditions including neurodegenerative disease. Here we demonstrate that humanin administration has neuroprotective effects in vitro in human cell culture models and is sufficient to improve cognition in vivo in aged mice. Furthermore, in a human cohort, using mitochondrial GWAS, we identified a specific SNP (rs2854128) in the humanin-coding region of the mitochondrial genome that is associated with a decrease in circulating humanin levels. In a large, independent cohort, consisting of a nationally- representative sample of older adults, we find that this SNP is associated with accelerated cognitive aging, supporting the concept that humanin is an important factor in cognitive aging.