ne of the most important medical discoveries of the past two decades has been that the immune system and inflammatory processes are involved in not just a few select disorders, but a wide variety of mental and physical health problems that dominate present-day morbidity and mortality worldwide 1-4. Indeed, chronic inflammatory diseases have been recognized as the most significant cause of death in the world today, with more than 50% of all deaths being attributable to inflammation-related diseases such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and autoimmune and neurodegenerative conditions 5. Evidence is emerging that the risk of developing chronic inflammation can be traced back to early development, and its effects are now known to persist throughout the life span to affect adulthood health and risk of mortality 6-8. In this Perspective, we describe these effects and outline some promising avenues for future research and intervention. Inflammation Inflammation is an evolutionarily conserved process characterized by the activation of immune and non-immune cells that protect the host from bacteria, viruses, toxins and infections by eliminating pathogens and promoting tissue repair and recovery 2,9. Depending on the degree and extent of the inflammatory response, including whether it is systemic or local, metabolic and neuroendocrine changes can occur to conserve metabolic energy and allocate more nutrients to the activated immune system 9-12. Specific biobehavioral effects of inflammation thus include a constellation of energysaving behaviors commonly known as "sickness behaviors, " such as
The genetic architecture of common traits, including the number, frequency, and effect sizes of inherited variants that contribute to individual risk, has been long debated. Genome-wide association studies have identified scores of common variants associated with type 2 diabetes, but in aggregate, these explain only a fraction of heritability. To test the hypothesis that lower-frequency variants explain much of the remainder, the GoT2D and T2D-GENES consortia performed whole genome sequencing in 2,657 Europeans with and without diabetes, and exome sequencing in a total of 12,940 subjects from five ancestral groups. To increase statistical power, we expanded sample size via genotyping and imputation in a further 111,548 subjects. Variants associated with type 2 diabetes after sequencing were overwhelmingly common and most fell within regions previously identified by genome-wide association studies. Comprehensive enumeration of sequence variation is necessary to identify functional alleles that provide important clues to disease pathophysiology, but large-scale sequencing does not support a major role for lower-frequency variants in predisposition to type 2 diabetes.
Aging has been targeted by genetic and dietary manipulation and by drugs in order to increase lifespan and health span in numerous models. Metformin, which has demonstrated protective effects against several age-related diseases in humans, will be tested in the TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin) trial, as the initial step in the development of increasingly effective next-generation drugs.
Aging is characterized by a deterioration in the maintenance of homeostatic processes over time, leading to functional decline and increased risk for disease and death. The aging process is characterized metabolically by insulin resistance, changes in body composition, and physiological declines in growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and sex steroids. Some interventions designed to address features of aging, such as caloric restriction or visceral fat depletion, have succeeded in improving insulin action and life span in rodents. Meanwhile, pharmacologic interventions and hormonal perturbations have increased the life span of several mammalian species without necessarily addressing features of age-related metabolic decline. These interventions include inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin and lifetime deficiency in GH/IGF-1 signaling. However, strategies to treat aging in humans, such as hormone replacement, have mostly failed to achieve their desired response. We will briefly discuss recent advances in our understanding of the complex role of metabolic pathways in the aging process and highlight important paradoxes that have emerged from these discoveries. Although life span has been the major outcome of interest in the laboratory, a special focus is made in this study on healthspan, as improved quality of life is the goal when translated to humans.
MCR is common in older adults, and is a strong and early risk factor for cognitive decline. This clinical approach can be easily applied to identify high-risk seniors in a wide variety of settings.
Leptin, the protein encoded by the obese (ob) gene, is synthesized and released in response to increased energy storage in adipose tissue. However, it is still not known how incoming energy is sensed and transduced into increased expression of the ob gene. The hexosamine biosynthetic pathway is a cellular 'sensor' of energy availability and mediates the effects of glucose on the expression of several gene products. Here we provide evidence for rapid activation of ob gene expression in skeletal muscle by glucosamine. Increased tissue concentrations of the end product of the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway, UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc), result in rapid and marked increases in leptin messenger RNA and protein levels (although these levels were much lower than those in fat). Plasma leptin levels and leptin mRNA and protein levels in adipose tissue also increase. Most important, stimulation of leptin synthesis is reproduced by either hyperglycaemia or hyperlipidaemia, which also increase tissue levels of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine in conscious rodents. Finally, incubation of 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes and L6 myocytes with glucosamine rapidly induces ob gene expression. Our findings are the first evidence of inducible leptin expression in skeletal muscle and unveil an important biochemical link between increased availability of nutrients and leptin expression.
Rather than being a passive, haphazard process of wear and tear, lifespan can be modulated actively by components of the insulin/ insulin-like growth factor I (IGFI) pathway in laboratory animals. Complete or partial loss-of-function mutations in genes encoding components of the insulin/IGFI pathway result in extension of life span in yeasts, worms, flies, and mice. This remarkable conservation throughout evolution suggests that altered signaling in this pathway may also influence human lifespan. On the other hand, evolutionary tradeoffs predict that the laboratory findings may not be relevant to human populations, because of the high fitness cost during early life. Here, we studied the biochemical, phenotypic, and genetic variations in a cohort of Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians, their offspring, and offspring-matched controls and demonstrated a gender-specific increase in serum IGFI associated with a smaller stature in female offspring of centenarians. Sequence analysis of the IGF1 and IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) genes of female centenarians showed overrepresentation of heterozygous mutations in the IGF1R gene among centenarians relative to controls that are associated with high serum IGFI levels and reduced activity of the IGFIR as measured in transformed lymphocytes. Thus, genetic alterations in the human IGF1R that result in altered IGF signaling pathway confer an increase in susceptibility to human longevity, suggesting a role of this pathway in modulation of human lifespan.IGF1 receptor ͉ human longevity ͉ genetic variation
Age-dependent changes in insulin action and body fat distribution are risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes. To examine whether the accumulation of visceral fat (VF) could play a direct role in the pathophysiology of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, we monitored insulin action, glucose tolerance, and the expression of adipo-derived peptides after surgical removal of VF in aging (20-month-old) F344/Brown Norway (FBN) and in Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rats. As expected, peripheral and hepatic insulin action were markedly impaired in aging FBN rats, and extraction of VF (accounting for ϳ18% of their total body fat) was sufficient to restore peripheral and hepatic insulin action to the levels of young rats. When examined at the mechanistic level, removal of VF in ZDF rats prevented the progressive decrease in insulin action and delayed the onset of diabetes, but VF extraction did not alter plasma free fatty acid levels. However, the expression of tumor necrosis factor-␣ and leptin in subcutaneous (SC) adipose tissue were markedly decreased after VF removal (by approximately three-and twofold, respectively). Finally, extracted VF retained ϳ15-fold higher resistin mRNA compared with SC fat. Our data suggest that insulin resistance and the development of diabetes can be significantly reduced in aging rats by preventing the age-dependent accumulation of VF. This study documents a cause-and-effect relationship between VF and major components of the metabolic syndrome. Diabetes 51:  2002 A progressive increase in visceral adiposity is a common feature of aging, and epidemiological evidence supports its role as a prominent risk factor for insulin resistance, diabetes, and mortality from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (1-5). Among various body fat depots, the amount of visceral fat (VF) best correlates with insulin sensitivity in animal models and in humans. Insulin action is markedly impaired in individuals with visceral obesity (6,7), and epidemiological studies have shown that VF can account for most of the variability in insulin sensitivity in heterogeneous populations (2,4,6,7). However, these studies are associational in nature, and VF may be simply a "marker" of more complex endocrine and metabolic changes rather than playing a "causative" role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and its metabolic consequences. Putative mechanisms responsible for the modulation of insulin action by VF include increased portal release of free fatty acids (FFAs) (8,9) and/or abnormal expression and secretion of fat-derived peptides, such as resistin (10), leptin, ACRP30, and tumor necrosis factor-␣ (TNF-␣) (11).A consistent observation in the biology of aging is that chronic restriction of caloric intake in rodents markedly improves survival and prevents the onset of insulin resistance. We and others have hypothesized that the beneficial effects of caloric restriction (CR) on the metabolic alterations of aging are largely accounted for by its prevent...
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