November 18-24, 2011
By Dr Robert Goldman
Longevity News and Review provides readers with the latest information in breakthroughs pertaining to the extension of the healthy human lifespan. These news summaries are compiled by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; www.worldhealth.net), a non-profit medical society composed of 24,000 physician and scientist members from 110 nations, united in a mission to advance biomedical technologies to detect, prevent and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimise the human aging process. Dr Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, and Dr Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.
Immune Markers Characterise Exceptional Health
Exceptional cognitive and physical function in old age leaves a telltale immunologic fingerprint and, conversely, older adults who have mild impairments bear a distinct immunologic pattern as well. Abbe N. de Vallejo, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues collected blood samples from 140 subjects, ages 78 to 94 years, enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study for nearly two decades. The team also gathered information about the participants’ health and function, medical history and hospitalisations and self-rated health, and assessed their cognitive and physical function using standard tests. Those participants who were most physically and cognitively resilient had a dominant pattern of stimulatory NK receptors on the T-cell surface, and these unusual T-cells could be activated directly through these NK receptors independently of the conventional ones. The functionally resilient elders also were observed to have a distinct profile of blood proteins called cytokines that reflect an immune-enhancing environment. The researchers showed mild health impairment had a dominant pattern of inhibitory NK receptors on their T-cells, and they have a cytokine profile indicating a pro-inflammatory environment. Writing that: “Collectively, these data demonstrate the importance of immunological parameters in distinguishing between health phenotypes of older adults,” the team submits that their findings suggest “novel immunopathway(s) that could be exploited to improve immunity in old age.”
Dr Klatz observes: Reporting that exceptional cognitive and physical function in old age leaves a tell-tale immunologic fingerprint, these findings open new avenues for research in aging intervention that focus on an immune-based approach to longevity.
Physical Fitness May Promote Eye Health
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. Paul J. Foster, from University College London, and colleagues examined the relationship between physical activity and low ocular perfusion pressure (OPP), an important risk factor for glaucoma. The team analysed data collected on 5,650 men and women, ages 48 to 90 years, residing in the UK and who were initial enrollees in The EPIC-Norfolk Eye Study in 1993. Using a detailed self-administered health and lifestyle questionnaire, participants were assessed for combined physical activity at work and leisure. From 2006 to 2010, study participants were examined for intraocular pressure (IOP), as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements. The results showed that moderate physical exercise performed approximately 15 years previously is associated with a 25-percent reduced risk of low OPP. Writing that: “Lower levels of physical activity were associated with lower [ocular perfusion pressure],” the researchers submit an association between a sedentary lifestyle and factors which increase glaucoma risk.
Remarks Dr Goldman: This large-scale study finds that an active lifestyle helps to reduce the risk of glaucoma. As well, the association between a sedentary lifestyle and increased risk of glaucoma, encourages the notion of regular physical activity to prevent the leading cause of blindness around the world.
Green Vegetables Boost Immune System
Green vegetables have been found to be the source of a chemical signal that is vital for a fully-functioning immune system. Previous research by Marc Veldhoen of The Babraham Institute in Cambridge, England, and colleagues revealed that green vegetables, in particular cruciferous vegetables, contain a compound that can be converted into a molecule that triggers the production of a cell-surface protein called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). While their latest study has shown that AhR is vital for the correct functioning of immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs), which act as a first line of defence and play a role in wound repair. Results showed that mice fed a synthetic diet lacking this key compound experienced a significant reduction in AhR activity and a significant loss of IELs. The loss of IELs resulted in lower levels of antimicrobial proteins, heightened immune activation and greater susceptibility to injury. “I would have expected cells at the surface would play some role in the interaction with the outside world, but such a clear-cut interaction with the diet was unexpected. After feeding otherwise healthy mice a vegetable-poor diet for two to three weeks, I was amazed to see 70 to 80 percent of these protective cells disappeared,” commented Veldhoen.
Comments Dr Klatz: Identifying that a chemical signal key to a properly functioning immune system is present in green vegetables, these researchers document a potentially important dietary approach for immune optimisation that warrants further investigation.
Anti-aging medicine is the fastest-growing medical specialty throughout the world and is founded on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders, and diseases. It is a healthcare model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy lifespan in humans. As such, anti-aging medicine is based on solid scientific principles of responsible medical care that are consistent with those applied in other preventive health specialties. The goal of anti-aging medicine is not to merely prolong the total years of an individual’s life, but to ensure that those years are enjoyed in a productive and vital fashion.
Visit the A4M’s World Health Network website, at www.worldhealth.net, to learn more about the A4M and its educational endeavours and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.