Friday, July 25, 2008

Why stress is aging?

Readers of Life Extension Update may recall the November 29, 2004 issue which described an association between emotional stress and shortened telomeres, a marker of cellular aging. Now, in research published in the May, 2008 issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity, a team at the University of California, Los Angeles report that they may have discovered why.

Telomeres are caps at the ends of chromosomes (the genetic material of the cell) that contribute to their stability. Each time a cell divides, telomeres lose length. Telomeres also lose length in response to chronic stress. Shortened telomeres in white blood cells known as lymphocytes have been associated with HIV, osteoporosis, heart disease and aging. An enzyme within the cell known as telomerase helps prevent telomere shortening and maintains the cells' ability to continue dividing.
For the current investigation, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine professor of pathology and laboratory medicine Rita Effros and colleagues studied lymphocytes from healthy male and female donors between the ages of 25 and 55. The cells were treated with varying concentrations of cortisol, the hormone released by the body when under stress, or with DMSO (as a control). Continue Reading

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