Further evidence for the rejuvenating effects of the dipeptide L-carnosine on cultured human diploid fibroblasts

Exp Gerontol. 1999 Jan;34(1):35-45. doi: 10.1016/s0531-5565(98)00056-4.


We have confirmed and extended previous results on the beneficial effects of L-carnosine on growth, morphology, and longevity of cultured human fibroblasts, strains MRC-5 and HFF-1. We have shown that late-passage HFF-1 cells retain a juvenile appearance in medium containing 50 mM carnosine, and revert to a senescent phenotype when carnosine is removed. Switching cells between medium with and without carnosine also switches their phenotype from senescent to juvenile, and the reverse. The exact calculation of fibroblast lifespans in population doublings (PDs) depends on the proportion of inoculated cells that attach to their substrate and the final yield of cells in each subculture. We have shown that carnosine does not affect cell attachment, but does increase longevity in PDs. However, the plating efficiency of MRC-5 cells seeded at low density is strongly increased in young and senescent cells by carnosine, as shown by the growth of individual colonies. We have also demonstrated that very late-passage MRC-5 cells (with weekly change of medium without subculture) remain attached to their substrate much longer in medium containing carnosine in comparison to control cultures, and also retain a much more normal phenotype. Carnosine is a naturally occurring dipeptide present at high concentration in a range of human tissues. We suggest it has an important role in cellular homeostasis and maintenance.

MeSH terms

  • Carnosine / pharmacology*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Humans


  • Carnosine