hormone could help predict men’s long-term health years in advance – new study
We all age, but we don’t all age in the same way. For some people, aging means an increased risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weak bones and cognitive decline.
It would be ideal if we could predict in early adulthood, when a person is still healthy, whether or not they are at risk of getting sick or needing medical support when they are older. . By then taking preventive measures, this would mean fewer people with health problems, fewer people in care and significantly reduced costs for the health system.
Our latest study suggests that it is possible to predict long-term health outcomes. We have discovered a new insulin-like hormone in the blood, called insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3), that may be able to predict long-term health and whether a person is likely to develop related diseases. at age – at least for Men.
To conduct our study, we looked at data from one of the largest cohorts of aging men, the European Male Aging Study. This recruited 3,369 men aged 40 to 79 from across Europe, including the UK, and followed them for four to five years. It was designed in part to assess whether the incidence of age-related diseases in men can be explained by the decline of anabolic hormones such as testosterone, which is important for growth and development in the body. .
Using data from the European Male Aging Study, we searched for significant associations between INSL3 levels in stored blood samples that were taken at the start and end of the study, and the incidence of self-reported age-related diseases. INSL3 was measured using a new test method developed in our laboratory. We compared these results with the effects of other hormones such as testosterone, and also adjusted for age, smoking status and clinical parameters such as obesity.
We were able to show that INSL3 levels can vary greatly from person to person and were strongly associated with the incidence of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, loss of sexual function and bone weakness.
Men who had high INSL3 had a lower risk of getting sick later, while men with low INSL3 had a higher risk of developing age-related disease. Importantly, by examining blood samples taken at the start and end of the study, we showed that this relationship could be predicted several years in advance.
Although INSL3 is made in humans exclusively by the same testicular cells that make testosterone, the latter is highly variable. Testosterone levels can change dramatically from hour to hour and day to day. This high variation makes it difficult to find statistically significant associations with other factors such as disease incidence.
Unlike testosterone, INSL3 levels remain surprisingly constant in a man’s bloodstream over long periods of time. This allows similar values to be obtained even when measured weeks, months or years apart. This allowed us to determine that low INSL3 was significantly related to a higher risk of age-related disease.
In fact, previous research by our group has shown that person-to-person variations in INSL3 levels can be seen in apparently healthy men as young as 18 years old. From our results, it appears that INSL3 levels remain similar throughout a man’s lifetime. This means that we may be able to look at a man’s INSL3 levels when he is young and predict his likelihood of developing certain diseases when he gets older.
It is likely that INSL3 has functions in its own right, acting on different organs in the body. This will need to be confirmed by further research. What is clear is that the consistency of INSL3 across the lifespan makes it a much easier biomarker to observe when predicting age-related disease in men.
What is behind these variations?
Our group in Nottingham is now focused on uncovering the factors that influence INSL3 levels in young men, and therefore their ability to make testosterone which could affect their later health.
Preliminary work from animal studies suggests that early nutrition may play a role, but many other factors, including genetics or exposure to certain environmental factors (such as smoking), may also be involved. We need to confirm the predictive ability of INSL3 by studying men over a much longer period of time.
Of course, this work is only for aging men whose testicles may function consistently well into old age, only gradually declining in terms of sperm and hormone production. Female physiology is much more drastically modulated by ovarian function, which changes drastically after menopause. Therefore, we do not yet know of an equivalent to INSL3 for women when it comes to predicting aging and disease.
Ravinder Anand-Ivell, Associate Professor of Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology, University of Nottingham and Richard Ivell, Professor of Molecular Biology and Endocrinology, University of Nottingham
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
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