As life expectancy increases, the presence of chronic diseases and multimorbidity (presence of several chronic diseases) also increases. One of the current social and health challenges is that the “extra” years of life are lived in good health by the elderly.
Some socio-demographic aspects such as age, sex or socio-economic level have been considered as factors linked to multimorbidity, but many others are still unknown. Among these determinants is the metabolomic profile.
Amino acids, for example, are metabolites that can play a critical role in the aging process. Various previous studies have found an association between high amino acid levels and the development of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Now, researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine, Public Health and Microbiology of the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and the Biomedical Research Center of the Epidemiology and Public Health Network (CIBERESP), two entities in Spain, conducted a study that there is an association between high blood levels of glutamine and branched-chain amino acids (such as isoleucine and valine) and an increased risk of multimorbidity.
The study authors had previously observed an association between high plasma concentrations of glutamine and essential amino acids and disability in the elderly.
“The association found in the two works for glutamine seems very relevant, since this amino acid is the one that is most present in the human body and excessive concentrations could be harmful”, they specify.
The new study was conducted on 1,488 people over the age of 65.
Reaching healthy old age requires having led a healthy life, but it also depends on other factors. (Photo: Cade Martin/CDC/Dawn Arlotta)
“We had information collected at two different times, by analyzing the blood concentrations of these metabolites in a specialized international laboratory”, explains Francisco Félix Caballero, lead author of the study.
“In the same way -he adds-, we have been careful and exhaustive in defining multimorbidity, relying on information on the presence of chronic diseases recorded electronically and generating, from sophisticated statistical models, a measure quantitative based on a list of 60 Chronic diseases”.
For her part, co-author Esther López-García concludes that “identifying the molecular bases of multimorbidity can be useful in finding effective treatments on altered mechanisms that solve several diseases and not just one”.
The study is titled “Prospective Association Between Plasma Amino Acids and Multimorbidity in the Elderly.” And it was published in the academic journal The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. (Source: UAM)