Hormone discovery could predict men’s long-term health
Researchers have discovered the vital role of the hormone, which develops in men during puberty, in providing an early prediction of whether they might develop certain diseases later in life.
Scientists at the University of Nottingham have discovered that a new insulin-like peptide hormone, called INSL3, is consistent over long periods of time and is an important early biomarker for predicting age-related diseases. Their latest findings were published today in Frontiers in endocrinology.
INSL3 is produced by the same cells in the testes that produce testosterone, but unlike testosterone, which fluctuates throughout a man’s life, INSL3 remains consistent, with the level at puberty remaining largely the same throughout a man’s life, only slightly decreasing with age. This makes it the first clear and reliable predictive biomarker of age-related morbidity compared to any other measurable parameter.
The results show that the level of INSL3 in the blood is correlated with a number of age-related diseases, such as bone weakness, sexual dysfunction, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The discovery of the consistent nature of this hormone is very significant because it means that a man with high INSL3 when he is young will still have high INSL3 when he is older. But someone with low INSL3 at a young age will have low INSL3 when they are older, making them more likely to develop typical age-related diseases. This opens up exciting possibilities for predicting age-related diseases and finding ways to prevent the onset of these diseases through early intervention.
The research was led by Professor Ravinder Anand-Ivell and Professor Richard Ivell, and is the latest of three recent studies on this hormone. Professor Ravinder Anand-Ivell explains: “The holy grail of aging research is to narrow the fitness gap that emerges as people age. Understanding why some people are more likely to develop disability and disease as they age is vital to finding interventions ensure that people not only live a long life but ia healthy life as they age. Our hormone discovery is an important step in understanding this and will pave the way not only for helping people individually but also for alleviating the care crisis we face as a society.”
The team analyzed blood samples of 3,000 men from 8 regional centers in North, South, East and West Europe, including Great Britain, with two samples taken four years apart. The results showed that unlike testosterone, INSL3 remains at a constant level in individuals
The study also showed that the normal male population, even when young and relatively healthy, still shows a wide variation between individuals in the concentration of INSL3 in the blood – almost 10-fold.
Professor Richard Ivell adds: “We now know the important role of this hormones play in predicting the disease and how it varies among men, we turn our attention to uncovering the factors that have the greatest influence on INSL3 levels in the blood. Preliminary work suggests that diet early in life may play a role, but many other factors, such as genetics or exposure to certain environmental endocrine disruptors, may play a role.”
The Lydia INSL3 cell biomarker as a predictor of age-related morbidity: findings from the EMAS cohort, Frontiers in endocrinology (2022). DOI: 10.3389 / fendo.2022.1016107
University of Nottingham
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