What is Epitalon
Epitalon is a synthetic version of epithalamin, a peptide produced by the pineal gland. Pineal gland is a very tiny gland. Almost the size of a pea, located in the center of the brain and is primarily known for producing melatonin, a hormone that helps maintain circadian rhythm and regulate reproductive hormones. Epitalon is a tetrapeptide, consisting of four amino acids, and was discovered by the Russian Scientist Professor Vladimir Khavinson.
Epitalon and remarkable anti-aging benefits
Epitalon is backed by substantial scientific evidence supporting its remarkable anti-aging and life extension properties in human beings. The tetrapeptide stimulates the production of telomerase – a natural enzyme that helps in the rejuvenation of telomeres. Telomeres are protective parts of the DNA and determine the rate at which our body ages.
Telomeres Essentials: Our biological clock
Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of each strand of DNA, something similar to the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. These caps are the stretches of same DNA sequence repeated again and again. The two roles of telomeres are:
- Preventing the chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, failing which would result in the corruption of genetic information.
- Helping the DNA to replicate without losing genes.
During the complex process of cell division, the chromosomes gets shortened by about 25 to 200 bases each time a cell divides. This is where telomeres come into play. Since the ends of chromosomes are protected by telomeres, the only segment that is lost is basically from the telomere length instead of the main DNA. This leaves the main DNA strand undamaged and whole. If not for the telomeres, DNA would end up losing some of its own part and with it important genetic information.
So, each time a cell divides, the length of the telomeres would get slightly shorter until the telomeres become too short. This is a stage in the cell division when the chromosome reaches a critical length and can’t replicate any further – triggering the cell to undergo senescence (aging) or apoptosis (programmed cell death).
The degradation and shortening of telomeres is one of the main theories behind how we age. Not surprisingly scientists consider the length of telomeres as one important piece of the puzzle in the process of aging. Many studies have associated telomeres shortening with age-related disorders and consider short telomeres as a predictor of early death. “Shorter TL is related to aspects of cardiovascular disease, such as plaques, heart attack, greater calcific aortic valve stenosis, vascular dementia and degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. It has also been related to diabetes and general risk factors for chronic disease, including obesity and insulin resistance.” 
Telomerase Essentials: The protective, nourishing enzyme
In 2009, three scientists Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak received the Nobel Prize for their work on telomeres and the ground-breaking discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that protects and nourishes telomeres . Their research showed that telomeres and the enzyme telomerase protect the chromosomes from degradation during cell division.
Telomeres slow down the shortening of telomeres by adding telomeric DNA (repeated DNA sequence of bases) to the telomeric strands, helping to maintain their length for longer and giving cells more cycles to divide. When we are younger, our cells produce a relatively large amount of telomerase. More telomerase activity means:
- Longer telomeres in the DNA
- Increased cell replication
- Better ability of cells to repair and replace damaged DNA.
However, our ability to produce telomerase declines as we age, resulting in faster shortening of telomeres and consequently cell replication takes a hit. This makes cells more vulnerable to fusions, aging and eventually death.
“Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein reverse transcriptase cellular enzyme that counteracts telomere shortening and adds telomeric DNA to shortened telomeres. Telomerase thus forestalls shortened telomeres from signalling the cell to cease dividing or to die. Telomerase promotes cell longevity even in the face of critically shortened telomeres. Conversely, cells with short telomeres without telomerase are at higher risk of fusions, senescence, and apoptosis. Thus, it is in part the interaction between short telomeres and low telomerase activity that appears to increase the risk of cell death.” 
Telomerase, by its regenerative action on telomeres, increases the capacity of a cell to replicate for more cycles. In other words, telomerase helps to increase the Hayflick limit. The Hayflick limit, discovered by Dr Leonard Hayflick, is the number of times a normal human cell will divide before it stops dividing and dies.
How Epitalon fits in the world of telomeres and telomerase?
Epitalon stimulates the production of telomerase in our cells. Epitalon has been shown to enhance the telomerase activity and telomere elongation in human somatic cells , thus indicating the possibility of its contribution in increasing life span. The study showed that the “Addition of Epitalon peptide in telomerase-negative human fetal fibroblast culture induced expression of the catalytical subunit, enzymatic activity of telomerase, and telomere elongation, can be due to reactivation of the telomerase gene in somatic cells and indicates the possibility of prolonging the life span of a cell population and of the whole organism.”
Another study showed that Epitalon helps the cells to overcome the Hayflick limit . The study evaluated the effect of the tetrapeptide on proliferative capacity of human fetal fibroblasts. Primary pulmonary fibroblasts derived from a 24-week foetus lose their dividing potential at the 34th cycle. The study showed that adding Epitalon to aging cells in culture “induced elongation of telomeres to the size comparable to their length during early passages. Peptide-treated cells with elongated telomeres made 10 extra divisions (44 passages) in comparison with the control and continued dividing. Hence, Epitalon prolonged the vital cycle of normal human cells due to overcoming the Hayflick limit.”
Summing up, epitalon increases the production of telomerase, thus playing an integral role in rejuvenating and strengthening of telomeres, while making the strands longer by adding more bases. Epitalon thus slows down the process of aging and helps in extending the life span in human beings. In a nutshell, Epitalon helps to:
- Stimulate the production of telomerase in cells
- Overcome the Hayflick limit, help the cells to replicate longer and live longer; thus delaying cellular aging.
- Elissa Epel, Jennifer Daubenmier, Judith T. Moskowitz, Susan Folkman and Elizabeth Blackburn. Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Aug; 1172: 34–53.
- The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009. NobelPrize.org
- Khavinson VKh, Bondarev IE, Butyugov AA. Epithalon peptide induces telomerase activity and telomere elongation in human somatic cells. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2003 Jun;135(6):590-2.
- Khavinson VKh, Bondarev IE, Butyugov AA, Smirnova TD. Peptide promotes overcoming of the division limit in human somatic cell. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2004 May;137(5):503-6.