A new study suggests that it may be possible to predict long-term health problems. Scientists have discovered a new insulin-like hormone in the blood, called insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3). This is the hormone that predicts health in old age. Not only this, but how likely is a person to develop age-related diseases? It can definitely be said about men in this context.
Data from the European Male Aging Study were used
The study examined data from the European Male Aging Study. This included elderly men. The study recruited 3,369 men aged 40 to 79 from across Europe, including the UK, and followed them for four to five years. It was designed to clarify whether the decline in anabolic hormones such as testosterone, which are important for growth and development in the body, could explain the possibility of age-related disease in men.
Using data from the European Male Aging Study, a significant association was found between INSL3 levels in pooled blood samples taken at the beginning and end of the study and their association with age-related disease risk. INSL3 was measured using a new test method developed in the laboratory. These results were compared to the effects of other hormones, such as testosterone, and also accounted for clinical parameters such as age, smoking status, and obesity.
Is it possible to predict the disease?
The researchers were able to show that INSL3 levels can vary from person to person. They were associated with diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, decreased sexual function and osteoporosis. Men with high INSL3 had a lower risk of developing disease later, while men with low INSL3 had a higher risk of developing age-related disease. Importantly, by looking at blood samples taken at the beginning and end of the study, the researchers showed that this relationship could be predicted years in advance.
Although INSL3 is produced from the same cells that make testosterone in men, especially the testes, testosterone is highly variable. Testosterone levels can vary markedly within hours or days. This high variance makes it difficult to detect statistically significant associations with other factors such as disease incidence. Unlike testosterone, INSL3 levels remain remarkably stable over a long period of time in a person’s bloodstream. This makes it possible to obtain the same value whether measured over weeks, months or years. This helped us determine whether low INSL3 is associated with a higher risk of age-related disease.
The disease can be predicted in youth
Previous research has shown that inter-individual variation in INSL3 levels is only observed in healthy men under the age of 18. Based on the findings, it appears that INSL3 levels remain the same throughout a person’s life. This means that we can look at a man’s INSL3 level when he’s young and predict how likely he is to develop certain diseases when he’s older.
How do levels of INSL3 change?
Researchers are now looking at what factors affect INSL3 levels in young men, as well as their ability to make testosterone. Preliminary work from animal studies suggests that nutrition in early life may play a role, but many other factors may also be involved, including genetics or exposure to certain environmental factors (such as smoking). Long-term studies of men are needed to confirm INSL3’s ability to predict future health problems.
Of course, this work only pertains to older men whose testicles can continue to function well into old age. There is a gradual decline in sperm and hormone production. A woman’s anatomy is so radically altered by ovarian function that it changes dramatically after menopause. Therefore, the equivalence of INSL3 for women in predicting aging and disease is not yet clear to us.
(Ravinder Anand-Ewell and Richard Ewell, University of Nottingham)