By Lyle J. Dennis, M.D. Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) is produced in a deep seated region of the brain called the hypothalamus.
The hormone functions to stimulate the sex glands to release sex hormones, mostly testosterone in men and estrogen in women.
We learned in a breakthrough report earlier this week, that GnRH levels decline with age in mice. The researchers elegantly showed the reason for this was progressive inflammation within the hypothalamus that was age related.
The researchers showed that the inflammation was mediated by an immunological protein called NF-kB generated by brain immune cells within the hypothalamus. They further found that blocking NF-kB production in the hypothalamus reduced aging and extended lifespan.
The results appeared to make the case that aging itself could be controlled by GnRH – age-related inflammation in the brain acts to reduce GnRH levels, and reduced levels of GnRH accelerates aging.
The scientists took it one step, or perhaps one half step further. They showed that regular GnRH administration to middle aged mice increased the number of brain cells and reduced signs of aging in the animals. To wit they specially said “GnRH treatment (peripheral) reduced the magnitude of ageing histology in control mice, “and “GnRH led to an amelioration of ageing-related cognitive decline.”
But of course the holy grail question here is simply can regular peripheral administration of GnRH increase lifespan?
I contacted lead author Dongshen Cai MD-PhD and asked if the group had any lifespan data on regular GnRH treatment.
“We don’t have lifespan data regarding GnRH treatment,” he replied.
Imagine if simply a weekly or so injection of GnRH from early middle age onwards could lead to decades more good health and reduction of disease?
We of course don’t advocate going out and trying that, sex hormones also may increase cancer risk (breast in females, prostate in males) but this data is provacative.
Clearly this is an experiment that should be tried in animals right away. Fortunately Dr. Cai agrees, “it is in our plan,” he says.