The Ultimate Guide to Klotho

Updated June 11, 2019

This article was scientifically reviewed by YourDNA

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A list of references is also included at the bottom of this article.

Aging is an inevitable part of life, it happens internally and externally, but what if there was a way to slow down the aging process? Recent studies involving Klotho have made it clear that this may not be far off, after all.

What's in this Guide?

Disclaimer: Before You Read

It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.

Genetics is a quickly changing topic.

While it's not the purported Fountain of Youth, its effects are far-reaching and could significantly change the face of healthcare when it comes to diseases of aging.

At YourDNA, we want you to be fully informed of new developments in treatment, and Klotho is certainly worth your attention.

What It Is and What Matters

Klotho has a lot of significance in the biotech industry, particularly for what it can do and what it can inspire in the future. It was first discovered over 20 years ago in Japan, where researchers learned of its existence and how it relates to lifespan.

While it cannot reverse the aging process, it can slow it down, which means less suffering and better disease control. Researchers are looking to capitalize on the data and put the knowledge to work in various ways, but first up is the goal to help slow down the way kidney disease progresses.

With over 40 million Americans suffering from the disease and approximately 600,000 on dialysis, its future success hinges on researchers' ability to harness its biological power.

What Is Klotho? Why Is it Making Headlines?

Klotho is a natural protein enzyme that exists within the body and brain. This protein is created by the KL gene and is produced in the kidneys. It appears to have a large role in the regulation of phosphate, but this is only a small portion of the significance of Klotho.

Klotho is currently making headlines because it's been linked to anti-aging properties in both humans and mice. It's also known to help regenerate muscle, as evidenced in studies carried out on mice.

Animals and humans with an overexpression of Klotho tend to be smarter, with higher intelligence levels and an estimated six point boost in a person's IQ.

This protein has the potential to change the way healthcare is administered when it comes to specific diseases, especially those related to the kidneys and brain. Additionally, it has the potential for huge impacts when it comes to diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.

A future where the effects of the diseases are minimized may not be far off if researchers can take the Klotho protein and put it to work as naturally as the person's own body would harness it.

What Role Does Klotho Potentially Play in Health and Disease?

While there haven't been many human studies, there have been several in animals 1— namely mice — which have shown favorable results in different areas.

The hope researchers have is that the administration of Klotho can help improve the overall quality of life a person has by reducing and eventually eliminating the diseases that lead to shorter lives.

The true effects on humans won't be known until Klotho clinical trials are carried out, and there are several companies — including Klotho Therapeutics 2 — who are nearly ready to begin these trials.

Klotho Therapeutics, also known as KTI, is actually one of the closest companies to getting started. They're expected to enter human trials with their patent-pending protein in as little as 2 years.

This is good news for those who suffer from chronic kidney problems, as they may begin to see relief in the coming years.

Common Conditions Associated With Klotho Activity

There are a number of conditions that scientists have proven associate with low Klotho activity. These include kidney disease — both acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease — cancer, diabetes and other diseases of aging.

Patients on dialysis, for example, have been shown to have dramatically lower Klotho levels than those with normal kidney function.

Increased Klotho protein levels in the human brain signify better cognition, memory skills and learning ability.

How Do You Measure Klotho Levels?

Klotho levels are measured through a blood test, which you can get through your doctor's office or even through an independent lab. You'll typically have to fast for up to 12 hours before to avoid getting an elevated reading.

What Decreases Klotho Levels?

There are several factors that can decrease Klotho levels in the body. Psychological depression and chronic stress are two main factors that have been known to drive down levels because they're taxing on the body.

A ketogenic diet, while popular in nature, has been shown to reduce Klotho levels and cause hypervitaminosis, which is a dangerous excess of vitamins in the blood.

Sometimes, a decrease in Klotho levels is just the result of a genetic mutation. In this case, it's important for doctors and researchers to isolate the cause in order to attempt to restore levels.

Studies on Klotho and What Is Still Unknown

There have been several Klotho anti-aging studies, but one of the most recent one in the news as of April 2019 3 involves Klotho and dementia. The study is being carried out by Dena Dubal, who was tasked with learning about the protein when she was hired in 2011 by the University of California.

Using mice, she focused her research on the ability of Klotho to improve memory function. She bred mice with an overexpression of the protein and found that they had enhanced cognitive function, even when compared to the ones who had received Klotho therapy.

From here, she was able to make the assessment that the protein has the potential and capacity to protect the rodents with Alzheimer's from losing their memories.

If these results can be replicated in humans, it would mean great strides for those who suffer from dementia. It also could potentially help patients that have other neurological conditions including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, two medical conditions that have little to no remedy.

However, it'll take some time to get to that point. There's currently no timeline for developing a treatment that uses Klotho, but it's in progress and that's an upside to all of the research into the protein.

Klotho Pros and Cons

There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when it comes to Klotho and your health. While injections and therapeutic methods may be some time away, there are ways you can begin making strides now.

The Pros of Increased Klotho Levels

There are several pros to having increased Klotho levels, but one of the biggest is the fact that an overexpression, or excess amount of Klotho production, has been shown to lead to a longer life. On average, according to scientific studies, animals with excess Klotho in their system tend to live 20 to 30% longer than those with normal levels.

There are other pros as well, particularly when it comes to disease management. In kidney disease, for instance, Klotho injections have been shown to reduce the severity of acute kidney injury in animals while at the same time promoting healing.

If this can be replicated in humans — and we won't know if it's possible until trials begin — it could be a real game-changer for those who have exhausted all medical options.

Additionally, these injections can be used to treat chronic kidney disease, slowing down the progression. Right now calcitriol supplements can help, but if there's a more viable option instead of medications and supplements, it can improve the odds of someone with chronic issues.

In animals with cancer, Klotho has been shown to suppress tumor growth along with reducing the cancer cells' resistance to chemotherapy drugs, which increases the odds of survival. Studies concluded repeated injections were not only tolerated but helped reduce tumor size, appearance and weight in animals with breast cancer.

Again, this could be beneficial for humans if clinical trials show that the results aren't limited to mice or other animals.

Klotho could also make great strides in those who have diabetes. Low levels of the protein have also been associated with decreased production of insulin, leading to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes 4.

Approximately 30 million people in the US are living with diabetes, and this number expands to 100 million when you consider those who have prediabetes, which is cause for alarm. Studies have shown that mice treated with Klotho therapy experienced lower glucose levels and increased insulin production, and if this can be duplicated in humans, it has the potential to be a huge development.

Are There Any Downsides to Klotho Proteins?

In addition to the pros of Klotho, there are a few downsides as well, though they aren't as extensive as the upsides. For example, though it can help reduce the size and appearance of breast cancer tumors, higher expressions may have the opposite effect on liver cancer.

Whether this would remain true for those who would eventually get injections is relatively unknown. Extensive studies would have to examine this potential side effect in depth.

People who have a genetic predisposition to lower levels of Klotho may opt to take vitamin D supplements because they are touted to help increase levels. However, doing so could inhibit the production of dopamine in the brain.

The scientific explanation for this reduction is that Klotho also inhibits the 1-α hydroxylase enzyme, which produces active vitamin D.

What's Next For You

Now that you know the benefits of Klotho and how it can help your overall health, it's time to take action.

Ways To Increase Klotho Levels

There are a number of ways that you can increase your Klotho level, both naturally and through supplements. Physical fitness is by far the best way to boost it. High-intensity training works in healthy people can boost Klotho levels in just a single workout. The younger the person the higher the level of increase.

In fact, exercising and increasing Klotho levels can also help with muscle loss that comes with age because it decreases the amount of Transforming Growth Factor-1 5 (TGF) and increases the Growth Hormone (GH).

Higher insulin levels increase Klotho, but this can be negated with a low-carb diet, which is one reason why significant diet changes should always go through your physician. Caloric restriction, while helping to increase the protein levels, should be discussed with a nutritionist so you get the essential nutrients you need.

You can find Klotho protein in foods such as broccoli sprouts, green tea and sugar. There are also Klotho protein supplements such as holy basil, activated charcoal and zinc that can also boost your levels.

While the human trials may be a bit of a way off, companies like Klotho Therapeutics are aiming to introduce created proteins to the market as a means of helping to not only lengthen a person's lifespan but also to improve their quality of life.

Referenced Sources

  1. Klotho and aging.
    Makoto Kuro-o. Department of Pathology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
  2. Klotho Therapeutics Company
  3. Study: Is Klotho a key towards eradicating Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
    David Rogers. 05 April 2019.
  4. Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents.
  5. The secreted Klotho protein restores phosphate retention and suppresses accelerated aging in Klotho mutant mice.
    Tso-Hsiao Chen, Makoto Kuro-o, Cheng-Hsien Chen,  Yuh-Mou Sue, Yen-Cheng Chen, Ho-Han Wua, Chung-Yi Chenga. Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, No 111, Section 3 Hsin-Long Road, Wen-Shang District, Taipei, Taiwan. Department of Pathology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX, USA.