New Study at UA Steele Children’s Research Center Shows Link Between Inflammatory Disease and Premature Aging

<p>Children and young adults with inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn&rsquo;s disease and ulcerative colitis often develop premature-aging diseases like osteopenia or osteoporosis.</p>

TUCSON, Ariz. – Children and young adults with inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis often develop premature-aging diseases like osteopenia or osteoporosis. Now, a study completed by the Steele Children’s Research Center, and recently published in Gastroenterology, “Tumor Necrosis Factor and Interferon-gamma Down-regulate Klotho in Mice With Colitis” reveals a correlation between inflammation and the down-regulation of the Klotho gene, which plays a vital role in aging. (The Steele Center is a Center of Excellence at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.)

“We have made a novel discovery,” says Fayez K. Ghishan, MD, professor and director of the Steele Center. “Based on our research, it appears that chronic inflammation of the gut causes Klotho to down-regulate—or ‘turn off’— contributing to premature-aging diseases such as osteopenia, osteoporosis and atherosclerosis, to name a few.”

Dr. Ghishan and Pawel Kiela, PhD, research associate professor, were senior authors on the study. They and their research team examined inflammation in three mouse models of human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Their findings showed significant inhibition (down-regulation) of Klotho in all three models. “Our results provide the first evidence of the IBD-associated inflammatory process adversely affecting expression of Klotho in the kidneys,” says Dr. Ghishan. “This has profound consequences, including mineral balance, vascular health and aging.”

“We can now theorize that if you have an inflammatory process going on, like IBD or rheumatoid arthritis, for example, you are likely to develop symptoms of premature aging,” says Dr. Kiela. “Our findings lay the foundation for future work related to the contribution of Klotho to chronic inflammatory diseases in human patients—and how to better treat these diseases.”
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The University of Arizona College of Medicine, University Physicians Healthcare and University Medical Center work together to care for patients, educate medical students, train resident-physicians and conduct clinical and basic research. The UA Steele Children’s Research Center and UMC are working together to build Diamond Children’s Medical Center (www.diamondchildrens.org), now under construction and scheduled to open in 2010. Diamond Children's will be Arizona’s only pediatric inpatient medical center connected to an academic research facility – the Steele Center (www.steelecenter.arizona.edu).