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Endocrine System and Age-Defined Morbidities Essay

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Updated: Sep 24th, 2020

Summary

In their article, “The Endocrinology of Aging: A Mini-Review,” C. M. Jones and K. Boelaert discuss the role of hormonal composition alterations, which take place within the body during aging, in the process of disease development. As the authors note, the decrease in hormonal secretion affects multiple body systems and functions including reproduction, nutrition, and metabolism. It leads to various adverse changes in older adults including “reductions in bone, skin and skeletal muscle mass and strength, derangement of insulin signaling, increases in adipose tissue and effects on the immune function” (Jones and Boelaert 291). The researchers discuss this problem in detail based on the evidence collected from scholarly peer-reviewed sources and draw some recommendations regarding targeted treatment strategies aimed to improve elderly patients’ outcomes.

In the article, a few studies revealing a potential connection between longevity and the mechanisms of hormonal secretion are reviewed. It is stated that “cell-autonomous reduced signaling through the insulin and IGF-I pathways leads to a reduction in the phosphorylation of their downstream intracellular targets AKT/protein kinase B (PKB) and serum/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase (SGK),” which ultimately results in “transcription of longevity genes and inhibition of their pro-aging counterparts” (Jones and Boelaert 292). It indicates a possible role of humoral factors in tissue aging. As for specific diseases defined by loss of hormones, the authors provide an example of osteoporosis. The disorder associated with the low mineral density of bones is especially common among menopausal women. It may occur due to estrogen loss, which provokes changes in the bone remodeling cycle. Additionally, it is observed that misbalances in steroid hormones, e.g., adrenal steroids DHEA and DHEA-S, increase the risk of immunodeficiency and cancer, while changes in the secretion of gut hormones, e.g., insulin, result in greater susceptibility to developing diabetes.

Commentary

Aging is commonly associated with diseases. It seems almost natural to experience the deterioration of body functions as you get older. As the study by Jones and Boelaert demonstrates, age-defined morbidities occur due to complex changes in essential organism networks, whereas an alteration in one body system inevitably affects another. In this way, hormonal loss impacts the dynamics of biological processes happening within the physical structure and consequently leads to altered health conditions. Nevertheless, the evidence summarized in the reviewed article suggests that the hormonal factor of aging and age-related morbidity can be intervened to enhance the quality of life and functionality in aging individuals. Clinical hormone replacement treatment can help patients at high risk of disease development. For instance, it may be suitable for women at the early stages of menopause as estrogen supplementation can prevent tissue loss and, in this way, decrease their propensity to osteoporosis.

However, one can also easily maintain hormonal balance through adherence to healthier lifestyles. Moreover, it is better to intervene in dieting behaviors and physical exercise engagement earlier in life than wait until the problems occur. One can also try to eliminate possible risk factors leading to hormonal misbalance including gut issues, overweight and obesity, high levels of inflammation, interaction with various toxins, excess exposure to stress, and so on. It is worth noticing that both mild and severe problems with hormonal secretion can take place across the lifespan and may affect even a young individual and then become aggravated with age. Sometimes they are defined by genetics and are hard to eliminate. Hormonal replacement treatment will be of tremendous help in this case. Nevertheless, one should still aim to maintain their own healthy psychological and physiological status to minimize the risks.

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