Do our internal organs age along with us?

Researchers from the University of Melbourne recently published an interesting study on how our internal organs and tissues age differently than our chronological age. Factors including genetics, lifestyle choices, and external influences attribute to this difference.

The organ age clock

An organ age clock, also known as an ageing clock or biological clock, refers to a concept used to estimate or predict the biological age of an individual’s organs or tissues. It is a measure of the functional state of an organ and provides insights into its health and potential ageing-related changes.

The concept of organ age clocks has gained interest in the field of ageing research as a means to assess and monitor organ health and ageing. By comparing the estimated biological age of an organ with an individual’s chronological age, researchers can identify whether the organ is ageing faster or slower than expected. This can help determine who may be at a higher risk of age-related diseases or conditions.

Do all organ systems age together?

The study conducted by the University of Melbourne found ageing patterns between different organ systems. An article about this research was published in Pursuit, where the researchers stated “We found a multi-organ ageing network, where the age of one organ system selectively and characteristically influences the ageing of other organ systems.

“So, if a person’s lungs appear older than their chronological age, it’s more likely that their heart, kidneys, bones and muscles, as well as their brain, will also appear older.

“We also show that brain age is most influenced by the age of the lungs and heart, whereas the musculoskeletal system is a network hub – influenced by the extent of ageing of most other organ systems.”

Organ age and its correlation to chronic illness

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The researchers studied 16 common chronic illness conditions including Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, coronary artery disease, hypertensive diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes, cirrhosis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and cancer.

They found that “advanced organ age significantly increases the risk of chronic illnesses and that chronic illnesses are characterised by unique organ ageing profiles.”

“More interestingly, across the 16 common chronic brain and body disorders, we show that advanced biological ageing extends from the organ of primary disease pathology to multiple organ systems.”

For example, where advanced brain age (when the brain looks older than the individual’s age) is evident for most major brain disorders, like multiple sclerosis, dementia and Parkinsonism. But, in people with non-brain disorders, like diabetes, CKD and COPD, the brain still showed advanced ageing. In fact, advanced organ age, particularly of the lungs, kidneys, liver and immune system, raises a person’s mortality risk.

Is it possible to slow down organ ageing?

Over time, our organs can accumulate damage from various sources, including exposure to toxins, oxidative stress, inflammation, and lifestyle factors such as poor diet and smoking. This damage can affect the cells and tissues within the organs, leading to functional decline and increased susceptibility to diseases. Lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and stress management can significantly influence the ageing process of our internal organs. A healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the negative effects of ageing and promote organ health and function. 

However, some individuals may experience more accelerated or delayed ageing of certain organs due to genetic factors, environmental influences, or specific health conditions. Taking care of our internal organs through healthy lifestyle choices, regular medical check-ups, and early detection of potential health issues can help support their optimal function and delay the onset of age-related decline.

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates. 

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