Rare longevity genetic mutation could prevent heart disease

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A recent study suggests that individuals with a rare genetic condition known as growth hormone receptor deficiency (GHRD), also referred to as Laron syndrome, may enjoy certain cardiovascular health benefits.

This research, published in the journal Med on April 26, 2024, adds a new layer to our understanding of how genetic mutations can influence overall health, particularly heart health.

GHRD results from a mutation that impairs the body’s ability to utilize its own growth hormone, leading to stunted growth among other effects.

This condition is extremely rare, affecting only about 400 to 500 people globally, primarily identified among descendants of a group from Ecuador whose ancestors left Spain during the Inquisition over three centuries ago.

The condition has been of interest to scientists because, in animal models, similar growth hormone deficiencies have been associated with a significant increase in lifespan and a decrease in age-related diseases.

In humans, the effects have been less clear, particularly concerning cardiovascular diseases—until now.

The study was led by Valter Longo, a professor of gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and Jaime Guevara-Aguirre, an endocrinologist at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador.

Their collaboration, spanning nearly two decades, has focused on exploring the health and aging implications of GHRD.

Their latest research specifically examined cardiovascular functions in individuals with GHRD. The study involved 51 participants, split between those with GHRD (24 individuals) and their unaffected relatives (27 individuals) who served as controls.

This setup allowed researchers to closely compare the cardiovascular profiles between the two groups.

The findings revealed several intriguing differences:

  • Individuals with GHRD exhibited lower blood sugar levels, reduced insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure than the control group.
  • They also had smaller heart dimensions and similar arterial stiffness, as measured by pulse wave velocity, but showed less thickness in their carotid arteries.
  • Despite having higher levels of LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” those with GHRD had a significantly lower prevalence of carotid artery plaques compared to the control group (7% vs. 36%).

These results indicate that despite the elevated LDL cholesterol, individuals with GHRD might be at a normal or even reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases compared to their relatives without the condition.

Such findings are particularly valuable as they not only enhance our understanding of GHRD but also suggest that manipulating growth hormone activity could potentially offer new ways to manage or prevent cardiovascular diseases in the general population.

Although the study group was relatively small, the consistent trends observed provide compelling evidence that the peculiar genetic makeup of individuals with GHRD could confer unexpected health benefits.

Further research could open the door to new therapeutic approaches that mimic the effects of GHRD, possibly offering new avenues to combat cardiovascular diseases and extend human longevity.

If you care about heart disease, please read studies that herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm, and how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that apple juice could benefit your heart health, and results showing yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease.

The research findings can be found in Med.

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