Inflammation discovery could slow aging, prevent age-related diseases

Aug. 7, 2023
University of Virginia research.

Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine have made a discovery related to aging and chronic inflammation. This finding points to a crucial factor that drives the acceleration of aging and may open doors to extend our lifespan while enjoying better health. Furthermore, it holds the promise of preventing age-related conditions, including fatal heart disease and debilitating brain disorders that deteriorate our cognitive abilities.

The root cause of this harmful inflammation lies in the improper calcium signaling within the mitochondria of specific immune cells. Mitochondria are essential energy producers in cells and heavily depend on calcium signaling.

Led by Bimal N. Desai, PhD, the UVA Health research team found that immune cells known as macrophages experience a decline in their capacity to uptake and use calcium as they age. This deficiency in calcium utilization leads to chronic inflammation, which is responsible for many of the health issues that plague us in our later years. By understanding and addressing this calcium signaling problem, we may have the potential to slow down the aging process and improve the overall quality of life, safeguarding ourselves against age-related diseases.

The researchers are of the opinion that by enhancing calcium uptake in the mitochondrial macrophages, it could be possible to prevent harmful inflammation and its devastating consequences. As macrophages are present in all organs, including the brain, targeting these "tissue-resident macrophages" using appropriate medications might offer a potential approach to slowing down age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

University of Virginia release on Newswise