|14 JUNE 2013|
Life Length, the world’s leading telomere testing and services company, has been invited to participate in a study to investigate how maternal stress during pregnancy influences brain ageing and age-associated diseases such as dementia and stroke. Neurologists at the Jena University Hospital, together with molecular biologists, psychologists, physiologists, and epidemiologists from Europe and the USA are studying the effect of psychological stress, exposure to medication, and maternal under-nutrition during pregnancy on brain ageing in later life.
Detailed knowledge of factors influencing healthy life in the ageing society is a precondition for early preventive measures against age-associated diseases. Healthy brain ageing is a major determinant of quality life-long health, allowing integration into society at all ages. Human epidemiological and animal studies indicate that in addition to life style and genetic factors, environmental influences in prenatal life have a major impact on brain ageing and age-associated brain disorders. Scientists involved in this €3 million EU-funded project will use state-of-the art neuropsychological, neurophysiological, and MRI methods to analyse and compare the biological and chronological age of the brain.
Life Length will measure telomere length in chromosomes from blood samples to determine metabolic blood markers of age. “Environmental factors such as exposure to stress hormones or malnutrition during pregnancy change the readout of genetic information permanently,” reported Matthias Platzer, Head of Genome Analysis at the Leibniz Institute for Age Research in Jena.
“These epigenetic processes significantly change stress sensitivity for the rest of life,” explained Prof. Matthais Schwab, the Neurologist heading the project. “Increased stress sensitivity makes one vulnerable to age-related diseases such as stroke and depression,” he added. Stephen J. Matlin, CEO Life Length noted, “We are delighted to participate in the brain age EU funded study headed by scientists at the Jena University Hospital which shows the value and utility of Life Length’s proprietary Telomere Analysis Technology, illustrating how groundbreaking ideas, such as healthy aging begins in the womb, can now be scientifically explored with enormous precision.”