Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New studies reveal that age-related nerve decline is associated with inflammation, differs by gender

Date:
April 16, 2010
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
New research investigating neurological decline in a population of "super healthy" elderly subjects found that the decline in neurological function of the peripheral nervous system attributed to aging may be related to metabolic factors, such as blood sugar levels, even if these factors are within the normal range.

New research investigating neurological decline in a population of "super healthy" elderly subjects found that the decline in neurological function of the peripheral nervous system attributed to aging may be related to metabolic factors, such as blood sugar levels, even if these factors are within the normal range.

In a related study of peripheral nerve function, the same group found that aging affects the nerves of men more than women later in life.

The findings imply, the researchers say, that age-related declines in peripheral nerve function may not be the consequence of the aging process alone but instead the consequence of aging, gender, plus metabolic factors that may be modifiable. The peripheral nerves are the nerves in the limbs that connect to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Outcomes from the two studies were presented April 15 by UCSF researchers during the annual American Academy of Neurology scientific meeting in Toronto.

"Reduced sensation from a decline of nerve function may contribute to overall morbidity and reduced quality of life in the elderly," said Ari Green, MD, co-lead investigator, assistant director of UCSF's Multiple Sclerosis Center and director of the Neurodiagnostics Center. "The medical community considers this decline a consequence of aging. Our findings suggest that low levels of inflammation and impairment in glucose metabolism may accelerate the decline of nerve function."

Both studies involved a unique population of healthy elderly individuals between the ages of 65-90 called the Myelin and Aging Cohort. As part of this work, subjects underwent extensive neurological, laboratory and physical testing, and had to be free of any major chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cognitive impairment, neuropathy and cardiovascular disease. For this project, researchers focused on the results from peripheral nerve conduction studies and laboratory findings.

"We know that the function of peripheral nerves declines with age but wondered whether other biologic processes were at play and if we could eventually predict this decline," said John W. Engstrom, MD, co-lead investigator and clinical chief of the UCSF Neurology Service. "These findings provide an opportunity to identify risk factors for the decline in peripheral nerve function."

In the first study, the team assessed conduction velocity, or the speed at which information traveled along peripheral nerves using nerve conduction studies. They found an association between age and slower nerve conduction in elderly men only.

"Everyone ages differently; there are different levels of normal," said co-investigator Chris Songster, a specialist in the UCSF Department of Neurology. "We want to understand if there are modifiable risk factors that, if addressed, could help people age well."

In the second study, the research team measured blood levels for highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and hemoglobin A1c, which are standard tests for diabetes and systemic inflammation. Using the same conduction studies but evaluating the amplitude of the response to an electrical stimulus rather than its speed, the researchers found decline even in subjects with mild elevations in hs-CRP and hemoglobin A1c. The subjects' levels were within the normal, non-diabetic range for those measures.

"Even within 'normal ranges' for measures of inflammation and glucose metabolism, we are seeing an accelerated aging process that could contribute to progressive neuropathy," said Green. "These findings suggest that age, mild inflammation and mildly impaired glucose metabolism may be bad for nerve cells. Perhaps in the future, we can investigate whether a therapeutic intervention could delay the effect of age on peripheral nerve function. This may just be the tip of the iceberg. We have a lot to learn from this study population."

Both studies are important elements of a broad UCSF effort to learn how nerves age, developed in a groundbreaking collaboration between the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (Drs. Bruce Miller and Joel Kramer), the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center (Drs. Stephen Hauser, Ari Green and Jorge Oksenberg) and the UCSF Nerve Injury Clinic (Drs. John Engstrom and Amy Lee). The work was developed in advance of these groups moving together to the new Neurosciences Laboratory and Clinical Research Building at Mission Bay. Laboratory measures were performed in collaboration with the UC Davis Department of Pathology (Drs. Ralph Green and Josh Miller).

The UCSF team is looking at many factors related to how aging effects the connections between nerves and plans many future research studies with this population.

"An important next step is to test whether modification of risk factors like inflammation has an impact on nerve function," Green said.

Additional UCSF co-investigators of the two studies were Amy Lee, MD, who performed much of the ongoing analytical work, and Carol Piunti. Additional collaborative help was provided by Reva Wilheim, coordinator of the Myelin and Aging Study, and Caroline Racine, PhD, neuropsychologist in the Department of Neurological Surgery. The work was funded through a private foundation grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "New studies reveal that age-related nerve decline is associated with inflammation, differs by gender." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415091521.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2010, April 16). New studies reveal that age-related nerve decline is associated with inflammation, differs by gender. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415091521.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "New studies reveal that age-related nerve decline is associated with inflammation, differs by gender." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415091521.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins