Genetics, diet and lifestyle factors are some of the things that have been known for a long time to promote longer life in humans. Many health professionals have always emphasized on these in directing people on how to live healthy and longer. A study of some centenarians by Italian researchers has shed more light on the benefits of blood microcirculation in elongating lifespan.
In a pilot study recently presented by Italian researchers from Rome’s La Sapienza University, it was observed that muscle and organ perfusion in the centenarians studied was comparable to those of people 30 years younger in terms of efficiency. The scientists observed in the Cilento Initiative on Aging Outcome (CIAO) study, whose participants were from the Cilento region in the southern Italy province of Salerno, that bioactive Adrenomedullin (bio-ADM) is connected to microcirculation. Low levels of the peptide hormone are taken as indicators of a good blood microcirculation.
Microcirculation describes the flow of blood through capillaries (the smallest blood vessels) in the circulatory system. It promotes efficient delivery of nutrients and oxygen directly to the cells as well as effective removal of CO2, metabolic wastes and toxins. It also helps to control body temperature and blood pressure through constriction and dilation of the body’s capillary network. It is a good microcirculation that makes long-distance runners to perform better at similar heart rate than an average person.
The Italian researchers, headed by Prof. Salvatore Di Somma, set out to ascertain the factors – genetic, epigenetic and lifestyle – that promote longevity in the Cilento region. They carried comprehensive assessments on the participants, who were divided into two groups. The first group comprised individuals with a median age of 92 years called the “SuperAgers,” while the second was made up of 52 people having a median age of 60 years.
Heart-function biomarker MR-proANP of the participants was evaluated alongside kidney-function marker penKid and bio-ADM. The analyses were carried out by the German diagnostic company sphingotec. Results from the pilot study were compared to findings from an eight-year Swedish research in which 194 healthy individuals with a median age of 63.9 years were studied.
The researchers observed that those in the younger groups had low levels of proANP and penKid, which point to no risk of them developing a heart or kidney dysfunction. Levels of the two biomarkers were high among the SuperAgers, with possible explanation for this being organ aging. However, in spite of the elevated levels, those in the older group were in impressive clinically conditions, even though levels were compared to those in people suffering heart failure or acute kidney dysfunction.
It was noticed that values of the biomarker bio-ADM among the SuperAgers were as comparably low as those of individuals in the two younger control groups.
“Very low concentrations of this biomarker indicate a well-functioning endothelial and microcirculatory system allowing good blood perfusion of organs and muscles,” Di Somma notes.
Adrenomedullin, a soluble peptide hormone mainly produced in the endothelial cells, helps to regulate vasodilation thereby contributing in controlling organ perfusion and blood pressure. Low levels serve as pointers to good microcirculation. Based on observations from some studies, bio-ADM levels can be used to predict or make an early diagnosis of circulation dysfunction. Levels in the blood typically rise about 2-3 days before septic shock occurs.
There are certain locations around the world known for inhabitants who live to a very ripe old age. Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Icaria in Greece, Nicoya in Costa Rica, and Loma Linda in California, United States are foremost among these centenarian zones. Although Cilento is not ranked among these “Blue zones,” it boasts its own fair share of centenarians. Life expectancy in region is significantly higher than the average in Italy: 92 years for women and 85 years for men. It is believed that people here are living longer than counterparts in Okinawa.
Di Somma had noted in earlier studies that the use of the evergreen shrub rosemary in the local cuisine might be connected to longevity in the area.
The researchers are now contemplating the expansion of the pilot study to 2,000 participants from the Cilento region. Among other things, they will be investigating how levels of the marker bio-ADM could be influenced by certain ingredients used in the local Mediterranean diet in the next phase of the study.
Scientists have long made efforts to find a way to make longevity measurable. Success in this regard would make it easier to systematically identify specific factors that could promote longer life.
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