Longevity effect of chromium picolinate--'rejuvenation' of hypothalamic function?

Med Hypotheses. 1994 Oct;43(4):253-65. doi: 10.1016/0306-9877(94)90076-0.


The first rodent longevity study with the insulin-sensitizing nutrient chromium picolinate has reported a dramatic increase in both median and maximal lifespan. Although the observed moderate reductions in serum glucose imply a decreased rate of tissue glycation reactions, it is unlikely that this alone can account for the substantial impact on lifespan; an effect on central neurohormonal regulation can reasonably be suspected. Recent studies highlight the physiological role of insulin as a modulator of brain function. I postulate that aging is associated with a reduction of effective insulin activity in the brain, and this contributes to age-related alterations of hypothalamic functions that result in an 'older' neurohormonal milieu; consistent with this possibility, diabetes leads to changes of hypothalamic regulation analogous to those seen in normal aging. Conversely, promoting brain insulin activity with chromium picolinate may help to maintain the hypothalamus in a more functionally youthful state; increased hypothalamic catecholamine activity, sensitization of insulin-responsive central mechanisms regulating appetite and thermogenesis, and perhaps trophic effects on brain neurons may play a role in this regard. Since both the pineal gland and thymus are dependent on insulin activity, chromium may aid their function as well. Thus, the longevity effect of chromium picolinate may depend primarily on delay or reversal of various age-related changes in the body's hormonal and neural milieu. A more general strategy of hypothalamic 'rejuvenation' is proposed for extending healthful lifespan.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Phenformin / pharmacology
  • Picolinic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rejuvenation / physiology*


  • Insulin
  • Picolinic Acids
  • Phenformin
  • picolinic acid