Age research: Low levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, contribute to ageing
Why do we age? What is going on in our body? What exactly is happening in our bodies? Since time immemorial, mankind has been searching for answers to these questions. The pharmaceutical scientists Alexandra K. Kiemer from Saarland University and Jessica Hoppstadter do not claim to have solved the ancient problem. However, they have discovered processes in our immune system which contribute to aging. Kiemer & Hoppstadter found that low levels cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, and the GILZ protein can cause chronic inflammation in the body. The journal Aging Cell published the results.
Human aging is a result of complex interactions between many factors. Our own immune system plays a crucial role. Our body’s defense mechanisms also age as we age. As we age, the adaptive or specific immunity system we have acquired over our lifetimes and which protects us against pathogens we come into contact with slowly deteriorates. Our innate immune system becomes hyperactive, while our non-specific or innate immune system, the first line in defense against a variety of pathogens is overactive. Chronic inflammation is the result.
Persistent inflammation can be harmful to the body. Chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis or atherosclerosis are more common in older patients. This has been known for many years. The scientific community calls this phenomenon ‘inflammaging’, a portmanteau that combines two processes inseparably related to each other: inflammation and aging. Alexandra K. Kiemer is Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology at Saarland University.