NOTTINGHAM, England — Scientists have begun to look at men’s hormones as a determinant for likelihood of developing diseases and health issues later in life. The insulin-like peptide hormone, called INSL3, remains consistent across long periods of time, making it a valuable predictive marker of age-related disease.
This current study follows behind three previous works exploring this hormone and its relationship to aging.
“The holy grail of aging research is to reduce the fitness gap that appears as people age. Understanding why some people are more likely to develop disability and disease as they age is vital so that interventions can be found to ensure people not only live a long life but also a healthy life as they age,” says co-author Ravinder Anand-Ivell, a professor at the University of Nottingham in the U.K., in a media release. “Our hormone discovery is an important step in understanding this and will pave the way for not only helping people individually but also helping to ease the care crisis we face as a society,”
To conduct their work, the research team analyzed blood samples of 3,000 men from eight regional centers across Europe, including the U.K. They compared their results to the behavior of testosterone, finding that INSL3 doesn’t fluctuate much in comparison. Further, the study demonstrates that even the young and healthy general male population still have varied concentrations of INSL3 in the blood, close to 10-fold.
This is a strong discovery, considering that testosterone and INLS3 are made by the same cells, yet they behave very differently over a lifetime.
The research has conferred a deeper understanding of the relationship between INSL3 in the body and bone weakness, sexual dysfunction, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other related illnesses that tend to come with age. From this, the team has been able to reveal a potential path for improving preventative care measures regarding age-related morbidity outcomes.
In the future, the team plans to take things further by identifying the different possible lifestyle factors at play that may influence these levels the most.
“Now we know the important role this hormone plays in predicting disease and how it varies amongst men we are turning our attention to finding out what factors have the most influence on the level of INSL3 in the blood. Preliminary work suggests early life nutrition may play a role, but many other factors such as genetics or exposure to some environmental endocrine disruptors may play a part,” concludes Professor Richard Ivell.
The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology.