05.09.2016 - Why do people grow old? Italian researchers took a close look at centenarians and found that low levels of the peptide hormone Adrenomedullin may significantly contribute towards good microcirculation and thus longevity.
Is it garlic? A lot of sleep? A daily glass of red wine? Many have speculated on what makes people live longer. Researchers have previously linked longevity to genetic factors, calorie-restriction and physical activity. Now, Italian researchers from La Sapienza University in Rome have identified an additional factor for a longer life. In the Cilento Initiative on Aging Outcome (CIAO) study, which was designed to identify life style, genetic and epigenetic factors contributing to longevity in the Cilento region, they discovered that the perfusion of organs and muscles of the centenarians was as efficient as that in people who were 30 years younger. What’s more, low blood levels of the peptide hormone Adrenomedullin (bio-ADM) appear to be an indicator for such a good microcirculation.
Principal Investigator Salvatore Di Somma and his team assessed health and life style of two groups living near the coastal village Acciaroli. In one group were so-called super agers, in the second their younger relatives. Blood biomarker analyses were carried out by the German diagnostic company Sphingotec. It measured levels of the heart-function biomarker MR-proANP, as well as a marker for kidney function (penKid) and bio-ADM, whose biological function is to control vasodilation. The results were compared to those of a cohort of 194 healthy persons (median age 63.9 years), who were monitored over eight years in the earlier Malmö Preventive Project (MPP, Principal Investigator Olle Melander, Lund University, Sweden).
As expected, low values of MR-proANP and penKid among the subjects in the two younger control groups indicated no signs of heart or kidney dysfunction. In contrast, both biomarkers were elevated in the super agers, possibly due to the process of organ aging. However, even though the older group had levels of the two biomarkers that were as high as those found in patients experiencing heart failure or acute kidney injury, they were in clinically good condition. Surprisingly, in the group of super agers, the bio-ADM values– which are often pathologically elevated in HF or AKI patients – were as low as those in both reference groups.
“Very low concentrations of this biomarker indicate a well-functioning endothelial and microcirculatory system allowing good blood perfusion of organs and muscles,“ concludes Di Somma. A good microcirculation is what makes marathon runners perform better at the same heart rate than average.
“We are excited about the connection between bio-ADM levels and a good microcirculation as an indicator for good quality of life”, says sphingotec founder Andreas Bergmann, who was instrumental in developing the bio-ADM assay. “If bio-ADM proves to be a reliable biomarker for longevity this will open up the avenue to a systematic analysis of the factors contributing to longevity”, he adds. ”We are excited to contribute to the identification of lifestyle factors ensuring a good microcirculation.”
The researchers are now planning to extend the pilot study to 2,000 people from the Cilento region. One major goal of the follow-up study is to investigate whether certain components of the local Mediterranian diet could affect the bio-ADM level.