Providing a new insight between the mind and body, a recent study has suggested that women under chronic stress have significantly lower levels of klotho, a hormone that regulates aging and enhances cognition. Women with clinically significant depressive symptoms had even lower levels of klotho in their blood than those who were under stress but not experiencing such symptoms.
Lead author Aric Prather, an assistant professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), said, "Our results suggest that klotho, which we now know is very important to health, could be a link between chronic stress and premature disease and death."
Previous research in mice and worms has shown that when klotho is disrupted, it promotes symptoms of aging and when klotho is made more abundant, the animals live longer. The study comprised of 90 high-stress caregivers and 88 low-stress controls, most of whom were in their 30s and 40s and otherwise healthy.
Klotho is known to decline with age, but in this study of relatively young women, this decline was seen only among the high-stress women. The low-stress women did not show a significant reduction in klotho levels with aging.
Dena Dubal, an assistant professor in the UCSF department of neurology, said, "Chronic stress transmits risk for bad health outcomes in aging, including cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease. It will be important to figure out if higher levels of klotho can benefit mind and body health as we age. If so, therapeutics or lifestyle interventions that increase the longevity hormone could have a big impact on people's lives."
The study is published in Translational Psychiatry.