With an aging global population, identifying novel therapeutics are necessary to increase longevity and decrease the deterioration of essential end organs such as the vasculature. Secondary alcohol, 1,3-butanediol (1,3-BD), is commonly administered to stimulate the biosynthesis of the most abundant ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB), in lieu of nutrient deprivation. However, suprapharmacological concentrations of 1,3-BD are necessary to significantly increase systemic βHB, and 1,3-BD per se can cause vasodilation at nanomolar concentrations. Therefore, we hypothesized that 1,3-BD could be a novel antiaging therapeutic, independent of βHB biosynthesis. To test this hypothesis, we administered a low-dose (5%) 1,3-BD to young and old Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats via drinking water for 4 wk and measured indices of vascular function and metabolism posttreatment. We observed that low-dose 1,3-BD was sufficient to reverse age-associated endothelial-dependent and -independent dysfunction, and this was not associated with increased βHB bioavailability. Further analysis of the direct vasodilator mechanisms of 1,3-BD revealed that it is predominantly an endothelium-dependent vasodilator through activation of potassium channels and nitric oxide synthase. In summary, we report that 1,3-BD, at a concentration that does not stimulate βHB biosynthesis, could be a nutraceutical that can reverse the age-associated decline in vascular function. These results emphasize that 1,3-BD has multiple, concentration-dependent mechanisms of action. Therefore, we suggest alternative approaches to study the physiological and cardiovascular effects of βHB.NEW & NOTEWORTHY 1,3-Butanediol (1,3-BD) is often administered to stimulate the biosynthesis of the most abundant ketone body, β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB), and its purported salubrious effects. Here, we report that a low dose of 1,3-BD (5%) is sufficient to reverse age-associated vascular dysfunction, independent of βHB. Therefore, low-dose 1,3-BD could be a novel therapeutic to increase blood flow and improve the quality of life in the elderly.
Keywords: aging; ketogenesis; metabolism; vascular function.