Meet the New Longevity Game Changer: C15:0

I recently lectured at the A4M meeting in Las Vegas and for those unfamiliar with the A4M, it stands for the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. It is an association of over 25,000 doctors. Today I would like to discuss an interesting compound that I’d heard about in the past, but has been generating a lot of buzz in the world of longevity. This compound is called C15:0 fatty acid. 

This article’s main image shows C15:0 with two compounds that are held in high esteem in the anti-aging and longevity circles, namely metformin and rapamycin. I am more partial to berberine than metformin (you can read about my reasons here); however, both do well in controlling the AMPK pathway. Rapamycin continues to take on more importance in the anti-aging world due to its wide-ranging benefits. The new member of this group is C-15:0 and paying attention to this little-known fatty acid could have big health perks down the road!

What is C15:0?

C15:0 is a saturated odd-chain fatty acid, which is an entirely different category than omega fats like omega-3s and omega-6s. There are some key differences and perspectives between C15:0 and omegas. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids like EPA, DHA, and arachidonic acid play critical roles in human metabolism and cell function. They help form cell membranes (remember the cell membrane is the eyes and ears of the cell), modulate inflammation, influence neurotransmitters, and more. 

Essential fats, omega-3s, and omega-6s must come from the diet. The body cannot synthesize them naturally. Their diverse effects make them vitally important. Though we typically don’t consume very high amounts of C15:0 in our diets, research suggests that raising intake levels could be advantageous.

Where is C15:0 Found?

Like other fatty acids, C15:0 consists of a chain of carbon atoms with a carboxylic acid group at one end. The “15” refers to the number of carbon atoms that comprise its backbone. It has a saturated structure, meaning there are no double bonds between the carbon atoms.

Small amounts of C15:0 can be found in dairy fat and meat from ruminant animals like cows, sheep, and goats. It is formed naturally in their digestive systems by microorganisms that help break down plant materials. Intake levels tend to be low compared to other saturated fats. I had heard about this compound before but did more research on it and was impressed with some of the clinical claims. A growing pool of research indicates it may promote better metabolic health.

C15:0 and Heart Disease

Several studies have linked higher circulating C15:0 levels to lower risks of heart disease and according to a large meta-analysis, blood biomarkers of dairy derived C15:0 were associated with up to a 26% reduction in coronary heart disease risk. This is because researchers think C15:0 may help dampen inflammation pathways underlying plaque build-up in arteries. This may become a component of our plaque removal program, which utilizes intravenous phosphorus phosphatidylcholine and other compounds.

C15:0 May Improve Blood Sugar

Evidence also ties C15:0 to improved blood sugar control and a healthier weight profile. For example, one study found that women with higher C15:0 intake levels were 48% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome – a cluster of risk factors like excess belly fat, high blood pressure, and blood sugar imbalance that raise the chances of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 

Studies also show connections between higher C15:0 intake or blood levels and enhanced insulin sensitivity and glycemic control. Studies find that elevated C15:0 levels modify transcription factors like ChREBP that control genes regulating sugar release and breakdown. This improves blood glucose control by reducing excess glycolysis and hepatic gluconeogenesis (sugars made by the liver).

This suggests benefits for diabetes management and prevention.

Reducing Inflammation

Besides reducing inflammation related to heart disease risk, higher C15:0 levels appear to be linked to lower systemic inflammation in general. This could have implications for inflammatory conditions. C15:0 intake appears to reduce activation of the NF-kB molecular pathway. This is a major player in regulating inflammatory processes in the body. By dampening excess NF-kB signaling, C15:0 may lower chronic low-grade inflammation underlying many diseases.

Another aspect is healthy aging. Some observational data indicates that greater C15:0 consumption is associated with reduced frailty and diseases of aging. This may be tied to effects on metabolism and inflammation. Along the same lines, there is a boost in brain health. Some early research links greater C15:0 intake to reduced risks of dementia and improved cognitive function in the elderly. The anti-inflammatory effects and metabolism benefits of C15:0 may promote healthier brain aging.

There is evidence that C15:0 interferes with cholesterol synthesis pathways in the liver. This includes reducing the activity of key cholesterol-production enzymes like HMG-CoA reductase. Downregulating cholesterol synthesis may improve blood lipid profiles. Through interactions with regulators like PPARs, steroid factor 1, and HNF4-α, C15:0 intake seems capable of favorably altering how the body metabolizes lipids. This may lower triglycerides, raise HDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk of fatty liver disease, which is now becoming an epidemic in the United States.

Another important aspect of C15:0 is that it can inhibit the growth of certain pathogenic gut bacteria while enabling commensal species. This includes reducing Helicobacter pylori linked to stomach ulcers and cancers. So, optimizing C15:0 levels may support microbiome balance.

Exciting Research on C15:0

A new study by Venn-Watson and Schork closely examines the cellular and clinical activities of pentadecanoic acid of C15:0, drawing comparisons to well-known longevity compounds rapamycin and metformin. The researchers found that C15:0 shares 24 significant cellular activities with rapamycin across 10 of the 12 cell systems tested. These overlapping impacts include suppression of key inflammatory markers like MCP-1 and VCAM-1 and anti-cancer effects. This suggests that C15:0 may help mitigate cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation, and cancer like rapamycin. Additionally, C15:0 was found to share 11 cellular activities with metformin, including influencing inflammatory mediators and targeting fibrotic processes. This indicates that C15:0 could play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes. Further supporting this, C15:0 activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) like metformin – a key regulator of energy homeostasis and metabolic pathways. This study reveals extensive biological parallels between the saturated fat C15:0 and well-known longevity compounds rapamycin and metformin. The overlapping anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and metabolic  regulatory activities suggest promising potential for C15:0 in improving healthspan and tackling age-related diseases. Further research is still needed, but these findings shed new light on the clinical potential of this little-studied dietary saturated fat. – Dr. P

If you enjoyed this article on a potential anti-aging game changer, you will also want to read this post:

Further Evidence Showing that Medical Ozone May Be A Player in the Anti-Aging Field


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