A new study published in The Journal of Physiology suggests that blood vessels can adapt during the aging process to reduce the damage caused from oxidative stress.
Researchers studied the endothelium or inner linings of the small, resistance arteries in mice. This type of blood vessel regulates the amount of blood that will enter the tissue and controls the systemic blood pressure.
Researchers used male mice between the ages of four months and 24 months old (in human years, that ranges from the early 20s to mid-60s).
The team first studied the endothelium at rest, without oxidative stress. They then simulated oxidative stress by adding hydrogen peroxide.
Study researchers discovered that just 20 minutes of oxidative stress resulted in unusually high levels of calcium in the endothelium cells of the younger mice compared to the older ones. Approximately 60 minutes of oxidative stress led to a seven-fold increase in cell death in the endothelium of younger mice compared to the older ones.
According to the study’s senior author, Steven Segal, when calcium levels become too high, cells can become severely damaged.
The findings suggest that with age, the endothelium can adapt to protect cells against an increase in oxidative stress, which will ensure that the arteries of older people can still function properly.
Segal concluded, “Although more studies are needed to identify the mechanism by which the endothelium adapts to advanced age, our study provides evidence that the natural tendency of the body is to adapt to oxidative stress during healthy aging.”
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Blood vessels can actually get better with age,” School of Medicine, University of Missouri Health System web site, July 20, 2015; http://medicine.missouri.edu/news/.
Paddock, C., “Aging may protect blood vessels from oxidative stress,” Medical News Today web site, July 22, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297103.php.