What is Humanin?

Humanin is a cellular protein currently being investigated for its regulatory roles and possible therapeutic uses to treat many age-related diseases including Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus among others.

Humanin is a relatively small protein comprising just 24 amino acids. Because it is so small, it is relatively easy for humanin to enter cells. Humanin is a functional peptide encoded by the human mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene, and it belongs to a class of proteins dubbed "neuroprotective peptides." In vivo, humanin mRNA is believed to be translated in the cytosol and not in the mitochondria.

The Humanin protein suppresses activation of the Bax protein. In its role as a cell death promoter, Bax targets mitochondria for destruction which eventually leads to cell death (apoptosis).

Laboratory tests on rats show that humanin reduces blood glucose levels, possibly by improving insulin regulation of glucose levels.

According to the Director of the Institute for Aging Research in New York, Dr. Nir Barzilai, scientists have long proposed a link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. But more research is needed, especially in human models, in order to characterize and thereby more fully understand humanin and its roles in cellular regulation.

If humanin regulates glucose levels, then it might effectively delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Humanin might then become a high value target for healthcare and pharmaceutical drug companies that are interested in marketing a substitute or analog for this protein.

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.