Director's blog

Age reversal in some parts of the body

武本 重毅







Either way, the increased activity of the sirtuins may prevent Waddington’s marbles from escaping their valleys. And even if they have started to head out of the valley, molecules such as NMN may push them back down, like extra gravity.

In essence, this would be age reversal in some parts of the body—a small step, but age reversal nonetheless.

One of the first clues this might be true in an animal larger than a mouse came when a student who works in my lab at Harvard came into my office one afternoon. “David,” he said quietly, “do you have a moment? There is something I need to discuss. It’s about my mother.”–

Given the expression on his face and the tone of his voice, I immediately worried that my student, who came from another country, would tell me his mother was sick. Having been half a planet away from my mother when she was dying, I very much knew how that felt. “Whatever you need,” I blurted out. The student seemed taken aback—and I realized I hadn’t yet posed the most pertinent question.

“Is your mother all right?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “Well . . . I mean, yes . . . well . . . mostly.” He reminded me that his mother had been taking supplemental NMN, as some of my students and their family members do. “The thing is, well”—his voice lowered to a whisper—“she has started her, um . . . cycle again.” It took me a few seconds to realize what cycle he was talking about. As women approach and go through menopause, the menstrual cycle can become quite irregular, which is why a year with no periods must go by before most doctors will confirm that menopause has occurred. After that, such bleeding can be a cause for concern, as it could be a sign of cancer, fibroid tumors, infections, or an adverse reaction to a medication. “Has she been seen by a doctor?” I asked.–

“Yes,” my student said again. “The doctors say there is nothing wrong. They said this just looks like a normal period.” I was intrigued. “Okay,” I said. “What we really need is more information. Can you give your mom a call to ask her some more questions?” I’ve never seen the color so quickly wash away from someone’s face. “Oh, David,” he pleaded, “please, please, pleeease don’t make me ask my mother any more questions about that!”


Since that conversation, which took place in the fall of 2017, I have known a couple of other women and read the accounts of others claiming to have had similar experiences. These cases could, perhaps, be the result of a placebo effect. But a trial in 2018 to test whether an NAD booster could restore the fertility of old horses was successful, surprising the skeptical supervising veterinarian. As far as I know, horses don’t experience the placebo effect. Still, these stories and clinical results could be random chance. These matters will be studied in much greater detail. If, however, it turns out that mares and women can become fertile again, it will completely overturn our understanding of reproductive biology. In school, our teachers taught us that women were born with a set number of eggs (perhaps as many as 2 million). Most of the eggs die off before puberty.–









武本 重毅