Aging

One of every nine infants in the United States is born early and, thus, with increased risk of cognitive difficulties, problems with motor skills, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders and anxiety.

Babies born prematurely face an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric problems that may be due to weakened connections in brain networks linked to attention, communication and the processing of emotions, new research shows. 

Studying brain scans from premature and full-term babies, researchers zeroed in on differences in the brain that may underlie such problems.


Dopamine deficiency in the basal ganglia (a set of subcortical structures) causes severe motor dysfunctions, such as slowness of movements (bradykinesia), as observed in Parkinson's disease. Dopamine binds D1 and D2 receptors that are expressed in the nerve cells of the striatum (a structure of the basal ganglia), and exerts different effects on the nerve cells. However, how dopamine controls through these receptors the information flow in the basal ganglia and voluntary movements is still not clear.


Osteoporosis, a disease of progressive bone loss, affects 70 percent of the U.S. population older than age 50 - about 50 percent of women and 20 percent of men. These individuals are at risk for fragility fractures, a break that results from a fall, or occurs in the absence of obvious trauma, and most commonly seen in the wrist, the upper arm, the hip, and the spine.  

People who sustain a fragility fracture are at a higher risk for future fractures and face increasing treatment costs. According to a new study, anti-osteoporotic therapy, a treatment intended to increase bone mineral density and slow or stop the loss of bone tissue, can decrease the risk of subsequent fractures by 40 percent.  


An estimated seven to ten million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease (PD), which is an incurable and progressive disease of the nervous system affecting movement and cognitive function. More than half of PD patients develop progressive disease showing signs of dementia similar to Alzheimer's disease.

A research team at University of Copenhagen, Denmark, has discovered that non-inheritable PD may be caused by functional changes in the immune regulating gene Interferon-beta (IFNβ). Treatment with IFNβ-gene therapy successfully prevented neuronal death and disease effects in an experimental model of PD. 


Protein regulates waste management in nerve cells


As we grow older, we lose strength and muscle mass. However, the cause of age-related muscle weakness and atrophy has remained a mystery.

Scientists at the University of Iowa have discovered the first example of a protein that causes muscle weakness and loss during aging. The protein, ATF4, is a transcription factor that alters gene expression in skeletal muscle, causing reduction of muscle protein synthesis, strength, and mass. The UI study also identifies two natural compounds, one found in apples and one found in green tomatoes, which reduce ATF4 activity in aged skeletal muscle. The findings, which were published online Sept. 3 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, could lead to new therapies for age-related muscle weakness and atrophy.


Today, more than 5.1 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating type of dementia that plagues memory and thinking. That number is expected to triple in the coming decades. Moreover, according to a 2012 survey, Americans fear Alzheimer’s more than any other disease.

But studies looking into treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have been frustratingly disappointing. Over the last decade, more than 100 human trials aimed at Alzheimer’s disease treatment have been conducted with little success.

The most recent Australian suicide statistics from 2013 show that, out of the whole population, men aged 85 years and over have the highest suicide rates. While the attention these figures have garnered is a positive sign, this is hardly a new phenomenon.

Over 38 men in every 100,000 of that age group die by suicide, which is more than double the rate among men under 35. The rate is around seven times higher than in women of all ages.

People around the world are living longer, even in some of the poorest countries, but a complex mix of fatal and nonfatal ailments causes a tremendous amount of health loss, according to a new analysis of all major diseases and injuries in 188 countries.

Thanks to marked declines in death and illness caused by HIV/AIDS and malaria in the past decade and significant advances made in addressing communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional disorders, health has improved significantly around the world. Global life expectancy at birth for both sexes rose by 6.2 years (from 65.3 in 1990 to 71.5 in 2013), while healthy life expectancy, or HALE, at birth rose by 5.4 years (from 56.9 in 1990 to 62.3 in 2013).


One in five older people who drink alcohol are consuming it at unsafe levels - over 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 units for women each week - according to a study by King's College London. The research in inner-city London, published in BMJ Open, found these unsafe older drinkers are more likely to be of higher socioeconomic status.

The researchers used anonymised electronic GP health records for 27,991 people aged 65 and over in the Borough of Lambeth in London. From these records, they identified 9,248 older people who had reported consuming alcohol and of these 1,980 people drank at unsafe levels.


In human cells, shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, are both a sign of aging and contribute to it. Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have found that the dietary supplement alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can stimulate telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres, with positive effects in a mouse model of atherosclerosis.

"Alpha-lipoic acid has an essential role in mitochondria, the energy-generating elements of the cell," says senior author Wayne Alexander, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "It is widely available and has been called a 'natural antioxidant'. Yet ALA's effects in human clinical studies have been a mixed bag."