Hormones could be prescription for living longer

PITTSBURGH What's the secret to living longer? The answer to this age-old question might be found through research looking at neuroendocrine changes throughout the lifespan.

Reporting at the 6th International Congress of Neuroendocrinology (ICN 2006) in Pittsburgh, Polish researchers who studied women aged 20 to 102 suggest a small protein derived from fat tissue may be an important determinant of longevity. Other research indicates boosting growth hormone may allow the elderly to live independently longer. ICN 2006 takes place June 1922 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Summaries of these studies' findings follow:

Can stimulating growth hormone delay the physiological effects of aging?

Boosting production of growth hormone may extend the time that elderly men and women can live independently, suggests a study of an investigational oral medication led by George R. Merriam, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Washington/VA Puget Sound Health Care System, and colleagues.

Aging is characterized by a progressive decline in muscle mass, strength and exercise capacity, often leading to frailty and the inability for living independently. Since growth hormone (GH) secretion also declines with age and many age-related changes resemble those seen in GH deficiency, the researchers are investigating the potential physical and endocrine effects of stimulating GH in older adults.

In this controlled trial involving 395 men and women aged 65 to 84 with mild limitations in their physical functioning, participants received either placebo or various oral doses of the growth hormone stimulator (GHS) capromorelin, an investigational medication discovered and developed by Pfizer Global Research and Development. Compared to placebo, GHS at any dose prompted an acute GH peak and an increase in overnight GH secretion increases that were sustained throughout a 12-month treatment period.


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