Controlling the triggers of age-related inflammation could extend the lifespan of many people, new research shows.
Inflammation is at the root of many age-related diseases such as arthritis, gout, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. But a Yale School of Medicine study, even in the absence of a disease, inflammation can lead to serious loss of function throughout the body and reduce years of active lifespan, Medical Express
The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that inflammation causes insulin-resistance, bone loss, frailty, and cognitive decline in aging — findings that could offer to clues to combating such age-related conditions.
"This is the first study to show that inflammation is causally linked to functional decline in aging," said lead researcher Vishwa Deep Dixit, professor of comparative medicine and immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine. "There are multiple cellular triggers of inflammation throughout the body, but we've pinpointed … the specific sensor that activates inflammation with age."
Dixit and his colleagues investigated the normal aging process of and found a particular immune sensor — known as Nlrp3 inflammasome — that is activated in response to aging. They then tested mice to determine if reducing Nlrp3 lowered inflammation and aging-related decline in function.
The results showed that animals with lower Nlrp3 levels were protected from many age-related disorders such as dementia, bone loss, glucose intolerance, cataracts, and thymus degeneration.
"Now that we've identified this mechanism in the Nlrp3 sensor, we might be able to manipulate this immune sensor to delay, or reduce inflammation," Dixit said. "This could lead to the possibility of prolonging healthspan, potentially leading to an old age relatively free of disease or disability."