Mitochondria and Long Covid: the SoLongevity Study Featuring Two Rowing Champions

Article by SoLongevity Research
Roberto Pusinelli (40) and Violante Lama (42), competing with the Italian national team at the European Rowing Championships, participate in SoLongevity research to understand how to improve mitochondria efficiency and provide answers to combat Long Covid

What this article is about

  • What are mitochondria and their role in Long Covid
  • SoLongevity has developed a test that accurately measures the ability of mitochondria to respond to specific stimuli
  • SoLongevity is testing the effects of dietary supplementation of three substances critical to the efficiency of mitochondria on a group of athletes, including two Italian rowing champions: Roberto Pusinelli and Violante Lama

Mitochondria, energy, and oxidative stress

Everyone knows about them but few know how to make them work at their best. They are mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of our cells, where all energy generation and consumption processes take place. The paradox is that the more energy they produce, the more the cell tends to accumulate damage related to energy production itself, damage caused by oxidative stress. And if the mechanisms that protect us from oxidative stress “jam,” the cellular machine also “jams” accordingly.

Signs of “malfunctioning”

When the mitochondria malfunction, we notice it right away: fatigue, loss of mental clarity, inability to sustain age-appropriate efforts. In severe cases, this malfunction can result in disease. Long Covid syndrome also seems to depend on poor mitochondria efficiency, and it is no coincidence that the symptoms most frequently reported by people affected are fatigue and mental fog.

SoLongevity’s research team is trying to shed light on this phenomenon. “We have developed a test that accurately measures the ability of mitochondria to respond to specific stimuli, and we already know that Long Covid patients have a marked mitochondrial deficit,” explains Alberto Beretta, scientific director of SoLongevity.

“We have developed a test that accurately measures the ability of mitochondria to respond to specific stimuli, and we already know that Long Covid patients have a marked mitochondrial deficit.”

What to do about it?

Let’s start from a distance. To protect mitochondria from oxidative damage and, at the same time, improve their energy level, one possible solution is to provide mitochondria with the precursors of three key activeingredients: NADwhich functions as a substrate for all mitochondrial energy reactions; glutathionewhich functions as a “scavenger” of free radicals and as a powerful detoxifier; and resveratrol, a powerful activator of mitochondrial sirtuins, which in turn become involved in regulating metabolic processes, optimizing them.

“With colleagues at SoLongevity, we have been studying the effects of dietary supplementation with these three active ingredients in Long Covid patients for months,” Beretta continues, “The results will be available by the end of the year. In the meantime, we decided to test their effects in a completely different population: that of athletes who undergo violent competitive stress. Because it is precisely in these situations that we can track mitochondrial damage and test to what extent our three active ingredients can help mitochondria recover.”

“Our goal will be to help athletes reduce oxidative stress, improving recovery time and sports performance. If we succeed, we will have reached a milestone in mitochondria research.”

The study with Roberto Pusinelli and Violante Lama

Two formidable athletes, Roberto Pusinelli (40) and Violante Lama (42), were chosen for the study, the Italian team for the European rowing competing in the 6,000mt Coastal Team Mix2x category. Roberto and Violante will take on 6,000mt in open water against the strongest European national teams of all age groups. Almost all of the participants are much younger than they are.

“Supporting the two extraordinary athletes, who are engaged in an extremely tough race, stems from the desire to continue scientific research and the study of the aging in our bodies, a condition perfectly simulated in a state of high physical stress such as in a race with prolonged exertion, where endurance and recovery capacity are everything,” Beretta says further, “Our goal will be to help athletes reduce oxidative stress, improving recovery time and sports performance. If we succeed, we will have reached a new milestone in mitochondria research.”

Stay tuned and best of luck to Violante and Roberto for Thursday’s race! From them, perhaps, we will also get useful information for those who cannot race and those who experience fatigue and breathlessness even when walking.

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