A variety of age-related diseases — including osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease — can be predicted by a hormone that remains stable throughout a man’s life, a new study shows .
This hormone is INSL3, and it first appears during puberty. Since then, its levels have only decreased slightly in old age. This consistency and the early age of its emergence make INSL3 valuable to scientists — and possibly to men’s health as well.
People who have lower levels of INSL3 in youth may also have lower levels of the hormone in old age, new research suggests. If this translates into a greater risk of health complications, as research has shown, these health risks could be brought under control many years ago.
Reproductive endocrinologist Ravinder Anand-Ivell said: “Understanding why some people are more prone to disability and disease as they age is critical so that interventions can be found to ensure that people not only live longer, but also survive aging. to live a healthy life.” From the University of Nottingham, UK.
“Our hormone discovery is an important step in understanding this, and it will pave the way to help not only help people as individuals, but to help alleviate the care crisis we face as a society.”
INSL3 is produced by the same cells in the testes that produce testosterone; unlike testosterone, INSL3 does not fluctuate as males mature.
To monitor blood levels of INSL3, the researchers collected samples from more than 2,200 men at eight different regional centers in Europe. INSL3 levels in men remained stable over time and also varied significantly between individuals, sufficient to distinguish health risks.
Levels of INSL3 in the blood correlate reliably with the number and health of Leydig cells — and having fewer of these cells and testosterone has also been linked to many health problems later in life, the researchers say.
“Now that we know the important role of this hormone in predicting disease and how it differs in men, we are turning our attention to finding out which factors most affect the levels of INSL3 in the blood,” says molecular endocrinologist Richard Ivell. University of Nottingham.
“Preliminary work suggests that nutrition early in life may play a role, but many other factors, such as genetics or exposure to certain environmental endocrine disruptors, may also play a role.”
INSL3 was associated with an increased risk for eight of the nine morbidity categories that participants reported on the questionnaire, including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (only depression found no association in this study).
But when the researchers adjusted for other hormonal and lifestyle factors, such as BMI and smoking status, most of the associations with INSL3 disappeared, with the exception of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
And to test whether INSL3 levels in blood samples from a subset of men could predict health outcomes about four years later, lower hormone levels were associated with seven of nine comorbidity categories. But again, this doesn’t take other factors into account.
One area the scientists are keen to explore in future studies is how INSL3 is related to sexual health due to its strong association with testosterone, but this was not included in this particular study in detail.
Future studies should also “focus on longer time periods to determine whether INSL3 measured in young or middle-aged men actually predicts later onset of age-dependent health problems,” the researchers concluded.
If further research establishes the link between INSL3 and these health risks, and scientists are able to pinpoint exactly why the link exists, it could mean earlier preparations to try to detect and prevent various age-related health risks. The problem occurs.
“The holy grail of aging research is closing the health disparities that occur as people age,” Anand-Ivell said.
The study was published in Frontiers in Endocrinology.