The complex, highly integrative endocrine system regulates all aspects of somatic maintenance and reproduction and has been widely implicated as an important determinant of longevity in short-lived traditional model organisms of aging research. Genetic or experimental manipulation of hormone profiles in mice has been proven to definitively alter longevity. These hormonally induced lifespan extension mechanisms may not necessarily be relevant to humans and other long-lived organisms that naturally show successful slow aging.
Pioneering work in model organisms reveals that the reproductive system is involved not only in propagation of the species but also regulates organismal metabolism and longevity. In C. elegans, prevention of germline stem cell proliferation results in a 60% extension of lifespan, termed gonadal longevity. Gonadal longevity relies on the transcriptional activities of steroid nuclear receptor DAF-12, the FOXO transcription factor homolog DAF-16, the FOXA transcription factor homolog PHA-4, and the HNF-4-like nuclear receptor NHR-80.
A significant increase in the number of old people in the populations of developed countries was followed by an increase in morbidity and mortality resulting from main age-related diseases -- cardiovascular, cancer, neurodegenerative, diabetes mellitus, decrease in resistance to infections. Obviously, the development of the means of prevention of the premature aging of humans is crucial for the realization of this program.
A healthy cardiovascular system, with minimal arteriosclerosis, good endothelial function and well-compensated ventricular function has been observed at advanced ages, and linked to a healthy lifestyle. This has consisted of a plant-based diet, low in salt and fat, with monounsaturates as the principal fat. Other healthy lifestyle factors include regular physical activity (farming and traditional dance) and minimal tobacco use.
The adult brain is much more resilient and adaptable than previously believed, and adaptive structural plasticity involves growth and shrinkage of dendritic trees, turnover of synapses, and limited amounts of neurogenesis in the forebrain, especially the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation. Stress and sex hormones help to mediate adaptive structural plasticity, which has been extensively investigated in the hippocampus and to a lesser extent in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, all brain regions that are involved in cognitive and emotional functions.
Sexual differentiation of the brain takes place during a perinatal-sensitive time window as a result of gonadal hormone-induced activational and organizational effects on neuronal substrates. Increasing evidence suggests that epigenetic mechanisms can contribute to the establishment and maintenance of some aspects of these processes, and that these epigenetic mechanisms may themselves be under the control of sex hormones.
The concept that the brain differs in make-up between males and females is not new. For example, it is well established that anatomists in the nineteenth century found sex differences in human brain weight. The importance of sex differences in the organization of the brain cannot be overstated as they may directly affect cognitive functions, such as verbal skills and visuospatial tasks in a sex-dependent fashion. Moreover, the incidence of neurological and psychiatric diseases is also highly dependent on sex.
The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry: The Official Journal of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry
OBJECTIVES: The one-carbon metabolism, also known as methionine-homocysteine cycle, governs the dynamics of DNA methylation, epigenetically regulating gene expression, and has been reported altered in anorexia nervosa (AN) adult patients. The aim of this study consisted in assessing whole-blood DNA methylation in adolescent AN patients, assessing its significance in relationship to clinical and hormonal variables.
Sexual differentiation of the developing brain organizes the neural architecture differently between males and females, and the main influence on this process is exposure to gonadal steroids during sensitive periods of prenatal and early postnatal development. Many molecular and cellular processes are influenced by steroid hormones in the developing brain, including gene expression, cell birth and death, neurite outgrowth and synaptogenesis, and synaptic activity.