Stress accelerates aging of the immune system, study finds

A team of American scientists has discovered that continuous stress can accelerate the aging of the immune system. In addition to the body’s natural defenses, the situation has other consequences, such as a potential increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Published in a scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)the study on the relationship between stress and premature aging of the immune system was conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC), USA.

Leading a stressful life can lead to premature aging of the immune system (Image: Djoronimo/Envato)

Early aging of the immune system

“Results identify psychosocial stress as a contributor to accelerated immune aging by decreasing immature T cells [um tipo de glóbulo branco] and the increase in terminally differentiated T cells,” explain the study authors. The situation found makes it difficult for the body to react against new diseases.

Here it should be explained that immature T cells can differentiate, i.e. they can respond to new pathogens that the immune system has not yet identified. Therefore, having an adequate number of such T cells allows the immune system to continuously respond and adapt to unknown pathogens.

From a stressed life, the aging of the immune system accelerates. In people of advanced age – after 65 – this process, known as immunosenescence, begins to occur naturally and in an expected way, but not before. For instance, the phenomenon is one of the explanations for the fact that the elderly are more at risk of facing severe forms of covid-19.

A study found a link to stress

In the study, American researchers followed 5,700 people over the age of 50. Each volunteer had to answer questionnaires on daily stressful events, cases of discrimination and chronic stress. In addition, blood samples were taken.

According to the study authors, people with higher stress scores had seemingly older immune profiles. Moreover, the association between stressful life events and lower concentration of immature T cells remained strong even after controlling for some factors, such as education, smoking, alcohol consumption, BMI and race or ethnicity.

Eating habits and physical activity

“In this study, after statistical control for poor diet and lack of exercise, the link between stress and accelerated immune aging was not as strong,” says the study’s lead author, Eric Klopack, in a press release.

“This means that people who experience more stress tend to have poorer eating and exercise habits, which partly explains why they have faster immune aging,” Klopck adds of the analysis. ‘study.

Given this scenario, stressed people should adopt multifactorial changes to control stress levels, such as improved diet and a weekly exercise routine. With the changes, it should be possible to compensate for the immune aging associated with this condition.

Source: Pnas e USC News

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