Protectin DX as a therapeutic strategy against frailty in mice

Geroscience. 2023 Aug;45(4):2601-2627. doi: 10.1007/s11357-023-00789-3. Epub 2023 Apr 14.


Frailty in aging is driven by the dysregulation of multiple biological pathways. Protectin DX (PDX) is a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-derived molecule that alleviates many chronic inflammatory disorders, but its potential effects on frailty remain unknown. Our goal is to identify age-related impairments in metabolic systems and to evaluate the therapeutic potential of PDX on frailty, physical performance, and health parameters. A set of 22-month-old C57BL/6 male and female mice were assigned to vehicle (Old) or PDX daily gavage treatment for 9 weeks, whereas 6-month-old (Adult) mice received only vehicle. Forelimb and hindlimb strength, endurance, voluntary wheel activity and walking speed determined physical performance and were combined with a frailty index score and body weight loss to determine frailty status. Our data shows that old vehicle-treated mice from both sexes had body weight loss paralleling visceromegaly, and Old females also had impaired insulin clearance as compared to the Adult group. Aging was associated with physical performance decline together with higher odds of frailty development. There was also age-driven mesangial expansion and glomerular hypertrophy as well as bone mineral density loss. All of the in vivo and in vitro impairments observed with aging co-occurred with upregulation of inflammatory pathways and Myc signaling as well as downregulation of genes related to adipogenesis and oxidative phosphorylation in liver. PDX attenuated the age-driven physical performance (strength, exhaustion, walking speed) decline, promoted robustness, prevented bone losses and partially reversed changes in hepatic expression of Myc targets and metabolic genes. In conclusion, our data provides evidence of the beneficial therapeutic effect of PDX against features of frailty in mice. Further studies are warranted to investigate the mechanisms of action and the potential for human translation.

Keywords: Aging; Bone mineral density; Frailty; Liver transcriptomics; Physiological decline; Protectin DX.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids* / pharmacology
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids* / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Frailty* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Weight Loss


  • 10,17-dihydroxydocosa-4,7,11,13,15,19-hexaenoic acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc