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Exercise Hormone can Predict Biological Age

Update Date: Feb 18, 2014 11:07 AM EST

According to a new study, irisin, a newly discovered hormone that is released after exercise, could be tied to the human aging process. The researchers from Aston University located in the United Kingdom reported that irisn could potentially help predict biological age.

For this study, the team of scientists headed by Dr. James Brown examined the role of irisin. Irisin is a naturally occurring hormone that is present in the body after bouts of exercise. The hormone is in charge of getting the body's fat cells to burn energy as opposed to storing it. When the fat cells burn energy, the body's metabolic rate increases, which have been tied to having anti-obesity effects.

The researchers analyzed the relationship between irisin levels and telomere length in 81 healthy, non-obese participants from Birmingham, England. 44 of them were males and 37 were females. The ages ranged from 18 to 83 and the participants had a body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 30, which meant that none of them were obese. The researchers only recruited participants that did not have type 2 diabetes, a history of cancer, an immune disorder or were recently hospitalized and treated with oral corticosteroids. The researchers controlled exercise levels by instructing all participants to refrain from any forms of exercise for at least 12 hours before the study started. The participants were also asked to fast eight hours before recruitment.

Telomeres exist on the end of chromosomes and shorten over time as the cells replicate. Shorter telomeres have been tied to several age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer and heart disease. From their samples, the researchers discovered that people with higher levels of irisin also had longer telomeres.

"Exercise is known to have wide ranging benefits, from cardiovascular protection to weight loss. Recent research has suggested that exercise can protect people from both physical and mental decline with ageing. Our latest findings now provide a potential molecular link between keeping active and a healthy ageing process," Brown said reported by Medical Xpress.

The study, "Plasma irisin levels predict telomere length in healthy adults," was published in the journal, Age.

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