Researchers at the University of Virginia have made a big breakthrough in understanding chronic inflammation, a factor that accelerates aging and contributes to age-related diseases like heart conditions and neurodegenerative disorders.
Led by Bimal N. Desai, the research team has identified a major contributor to chronic inflammation, often referred to as “inflammaging.”
They found that impaired calcium signaling in the mitochondria of macrophages, a type of immune cell, is responsible for this chronic inflammatory state.
The Role of Calcium Signaling in Inflammation
The study highlights that as individuals age, mitochondria within macrophages lose their ability to efficiently utilize calcium.
Since mitochondria are crucial for cellular energy production, this impairment leads to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of many age-related health problems.
Macrophages are white blood cells that play a pivotal role in the immune system. They not only remove dead or dying cells but also act as sentinels against foreign invaders.
The research indicates that these macrophages become less effective with age, contributing to inflammaging.
The researchers propose that enhancing calcium uptake in these cells could mitigate inflammation and its detrimental effects. This discovery has the potential to pave the way for new therapies that target various age-related diseases.
It is important to note that the issue lies not in the scarcity of calcium but in the inability of macrophages to effectively utilize it.
The researchers are determined to delve deeper into the precise molecular mechanisms at play and explore strategies to stimulate this machinery in aging cells.
The findings have far-reaching implications, particularly for treating age-related diseases affecting the heart and brain.
They also offer the possibility of bolstering the immune system during old age, a time when susceptibility to diseases increases.
This interdisciplinary study, which blends computational biology, immunology, cell biology, and biophysics, represents a significant conceptual advancement in comprehending the relationship between chronic inflammation and aging.
The research, published in the journal Nature Aging and led by graduate student Phil Seegren, is a promising step toward not only extending lifespan but also improving the quality of life in later years by targeting inflammaging—a key driver of age-associated ailments.
Dr. Bimal N. Desai emphasized, “Now, moving forward, we need an equally ambitious effort to figure out the wiring that controls this mitochondrial process in different types of macrophages and then manipulate that wiring for biomedical impact.”
This groundbreaking discovery offers hope for a healthier and more vibrant aging process by addressing the underlying inflammation that contributes to age-related diseases.
If you care about wellness, please read studies about how ultra-processed foods and red meat influence your longevity, and why seafood may boost healthy aging.
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