Tag Archives: Inflammation

Reversing Age-Related Impairment and Immunity

While the average life-expectancy for humans continues to increase, a longer life span has been tied to an uptick in age-related disease and impairment across the globe. As a result of a declining immune system, the growing elderly population is more prone to infectious diseases – including influenza and COVID-19. Additionally, this group is commonly affected by age-related frailty, which has a significant negative impact on quality of life. The high level of care and involvement required to maintain the health of these patients has the potential to bear a growing burden on the healthcare system which is part of the reason underlying research efforts in the field of human longevity.

The current body of knowledge suggests the role of chronic low-grade inflammation in the biological aging process and development of age-related diseases; scientific evidence implicates that the presence of inflammation in the body accelerates aging. Hoping to uncover more information about additional factors that may contribute to an accelerated process and potential methods of reversing them, a team of researchers from the Department for BioMedical Research at the University of Bern conducted a study with findings published in Nature Metabolism.

Age-Related Frailty and Immunity

Under Bernese guidance, Dr. Mario Noti and Dr. Alexander Eggel aimed to identify new approaches to improving health-span in an ever-increasing aging population by focusing on adipose tissue eosinophils (ATEs) present in humans and mice. These immune cells found in visceral adipose tissue, otherwise known as belly fat, play an essential role in regulating inflammation and could be used to reverse aging processes; these cells are important in the control of obesity-related inflammation and metabolic disease as they are responsible for maintaining local immune homeostasis. Increasing age is tied to a decrease in eosinophils in adipose tissue and an increase in pro-inflammatory macrophages – turning belly fat into a source of pro-inflammatory activity.

Role of Eosinophils in Chronic Inflammation

The study’s authors demonstrated that visceral adipose tissue contributed to the development of chronic low-grade inflammation. They found that ATEs undergo major age-related changes in distribution and function associated with impaired adipose tissue homeostasis and systemic low-grade inflammation in human subjects as well as mice. However, exposure to a young systemic environment  was able to partially restore ATE distribution in aged subjects by reducing adipose tissue inflammation.

“In different experimental approaches, we were able to show that transfers of eosinophils from young mice into aged recipients resolved not only local but also systemic low-grade inflammation,” the researchers told ScienceDaily. ”In these experiments, we observed that transferred eosinophils were selectively homing into adipose tissue.”

Using an adoptive transfer or eosinophils from young mice to aged subjects, researchers were able to restore ATE distribution and sufficiently mitigate age-related local and systemic low-grade inflammation. As a result of the transfer, youthful systemic environments were restored and systemic rejuvenation took place in aged mice. Changes were both physical – assessed by endurance and grip strength tests – and immune-related – manifested in improved vaccination responses.

Dr. Noti and Dr. Eggel’s findings support the critical function of adipose tissue as a source contributing to accelerated aging and uncover the new role of eosinophils in sustaining adipose tissue homeostasis and thus, promoting healthy aging.

Because the age-related changes in adipose immune cell distribution were confirmed in human subjects, the latest study may have significant positive implications for the anti-aging medicine field when translated into clinical practice. Age-related frailty and immune decline may be halted and potentially even reversed as a result of this novel cell-based therapeutic approach.

“Our results indicate that the biological processes of aging and the associated functional impairments are more plastic than previously assumed,” Dr. Noti stated. “A future direction of our research will be to now leverage the gained knowledge for the establishment of targeted therapeutic approaches to promote and sustain healthy aging in humans,” his research partner Dr. Eggel concluded.

 

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Inflammaging: Chronic Inflammation and Healthy Aging

In recent years, the scientific community has been increasingly focused on a rarely recognized yet widely prevalent condition that contributes to an array of diseases, including cardiometabolic diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and depression. Chronic inflammation, although it may progress slowly, is the root cause of most chronic diseases and poses a significant threat to public health and longevity.

Trending in many medical specialities chronic, low-grade inflammation associated with changes in stem cell structure and deterioration is being referred to as “inflammaging”. The condition, which often results from an accumulation of health risk factors such as environmental causes, dietary habits, UV exposure, and sleep patterns, is linked to a number of age-related diseases – including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. To delay and support healthy aging while protecting the body from illness, medical experts continue to investigate the prominent role of chronic inflammation and its implications on the development of anti-aging therapies.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

Current literature has identified several underlying molecular causes of the phenomenon of inflammaging. The condition stems from a failure of the immune system to mitigate responses to illness or injury; factors can include the body’s failure to eliminate bacterium or fungus, exposure to a toxic substance, or the presence of an autoimmune condition. With age, immune responses tend to become less well-regulated and thus, may result in consistently elevated levels of inflammatory agents such as C-reactive protein, chemokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-a.

Further, inflammaging can have a direct impact on skin health and vitality. Chronic oxidative stress can cause accelerated tissue damage, weakening skin structure and leading to the breakdown of elastin and collagen, ultimately impairing the skin’s barrier function. This contributes to the development of many unwanted dermatologic symptoms – wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, and textural changes.

Preventative Techniques 

As chronic inflammation is difficult to treat, employing adequate preventative measures is of utmost importance. Improving overall health by maintaining a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and consistent sleep patterns can be beneficial to supporting optimal functioning of stem cells in the body.

Highly processed foods contribute to the inflammatory response, increasing the risk of and worsening existing chronic inflammation. On the other hand, consuming a diet rich with anti-inflammatory foods – high in nutrient–dense vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed foods – can aid the body in regulating the immune response which becomes more challenging with age.

Additionally, experts emphasize the role of the gut microbiome in preventing chronic inflammation; research has found that the gut microbiota of elderly patients often has decreased diversity, leading to weakened barriers against bacteria and thus, increased risk and prevalence of chronic inflammation. To help maintain gut health it is recommended to increase the consumption of probiotic-rich foods – yogurt, kefir, and fermented products – and maintain a well-rounded diet.

Another important preventative measure to consider is the routine and careful use of sunscreen to protect the body against harmful UV exposure, which drives pro-inflammaging factors. To aid this, skincare products with the right ingredients can shield skin stem cells from the negative effects of environmental stressors and break the cycle of inflammaging.

While knowledge in the relatively novel field of inflammaging is continuously expanding, the role of chronic inflammation in the biological aging process and development of age-related disease has become well-known. Clinicians looking to gain a better understanding of current clinical evidence and strategies for targeting inflammatory activity are invited to attend the Inflammaging – Ways to Slow the Clock session taking place during our Longevity, Aging, and Immuno Competency Virtual Event.

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Mushrooms as Medicine?

Mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for centuries, treating everything from asthma to gout. The food is now being marketed in the West as part of a medicinal regimen to prevent cancer, and/or stimulate higher brain function. While there are relatively few trials that have been conducted in humans to support these claims, there are studies that have confirmed the food’s anti-tumor properties.

While mushrooms are inherently healthy and low in calories, scientists at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, assert that mushrooms are particularly good for us because of what they do before humans harvest them. Viki Sabaratnam, the scientist in charge of the school’s mushroom research center, states: “Their basic function in the environment is recycling of large molecules, and in the process they produce these fruit bodies, we call them, and they accumulate some of these components.”

These components include dozens of nutrients like selenium, vitamin D, potassium, and compounds known as beta glucans, which can help fight inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is a primary contributor to many diseases associated with aging, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. In the lab, researchers have reported many promising benefits from mushrooms, ranging from killing cancer in human cells to reducing insulin resistance in diabetic mice.

While the research on humans has not been prolific, and has been re legated to small and specifically targeted populations, a few outliers exist: shitake mushroom extracts have been found to help prolong the lives of stomach cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy; maitake (hen-of-the-woods) and scaly wood mushroom extracts seem to strengthen the immune system of some breast cancer patients. Reishi extracts have been credited with reducing obesity in mice by altering gut bacteria, and in the lab, extracts of oyster mushrooms appear to inhibit growth of breast and colon cancer cells.

Sabaratnam’s research focuses on how mushrooms might someday help fight off dementia, which impacts approximately 50 million people today–with 10 million more added each year. She and her team reviewed studies of 20 different medicinal mushrooms thought to improve brain function, and about 80 different metabolites isolated from those mushrooms that were tested in cells in the lab and in mice. Their findings indicate that these metabolites improved recovery and function in damaged neural cells, and also had antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

“We have shown in lab experiments, yes, some of these properties are there…but it’s quite a long way to go” in terms of the mushroom extracts’ effect on humans. The edible mushrooms that contain high levels of nutrients and antioxidants are high in fiber and lower in cholesterol, and make for a positive addition to any diet.

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