Nav: Home

Mayo Clinic researchers develop accurate way to measure growth factor linked to aging

June 14, 2016

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Researchers at Mayo Clinic have developed an accurate way to measure a circulating factor, called GDF11, to better understand its potential impact on the aging process. They found that GDF11 levels do not decline with chronological age, but are associated with signs of advanced biological age, including chronic disease, frailty and greater operative risk in older adults with cardiovascular disease. Results appear today in Cell Metabolism.

"Aging is the primary risk factor for the majority of chronic diseases, so it is critical to identify and understand the biomarkers, or indicators, in the body that are linked to this process," says Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging's Healthy and Independent Living Program and senior author of the study. "The role of GDF11 as a biomarker of aging and its association with age-related conditions has been largely contradictory, in part, because of how difficult it has been to measure. We have developed a new way to measure GDF11 that is accurate and effective."

A challenge of previous measurements was differentiating between the circulating levels of GDF11 and those of a highly-related protein, myostatin. To overcome this, researchers at the Center on Aging developed an extremely precise assay that can distinguish between unique amino acid sequence features, or "fingerprints" of GDF11 and myostatin.

Using this platform, researchers compared age-associated changes in GDF11 and myostatin in healthy men and women between 20 and 94 years old. They discovered that although myostatin is higher in younger men than younger women and declines in healthy men throughout aging, GDF11 levels do not differ between sexes nor decline throughout aging. In an independent cohort of older individuals with severe aortic stenosis, researchers found that those with higher GDF11 levels were more likely to be frail and have diabetes or prior cardiac conditions. Following valve replacement surgery, increased GDF11 was associated with a higher prevalence of re-hospitalization and multiple adverse events.

"As a methodological advancement, our assay will be useful for better understanding the basic biology of GDF11 and myostatin, and through its use, we've discovered that GDF11 may be an important biomarker of frailty and comorbidity. It's a great example of bench-to-bedside research with direct relevance to medical management decisions," says Marissa Schafer, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. LeBrasseur's laboratory and lead author of the study.

Dr. LeBrasseur agrees that the findings could have important implications for future studies.

"Being able to accurately measure GDF11 has allowed us to demonstrate its relationship with the biological process of aging and its ties to negative health effects in older adults with cardiovascular disease," says Dr. LeBrasseur. "This is a crucial first step, and we will need further studies designed to understand how we might be able to use GDF11 as a predictor of health outcomes as well as potential therapeutic benefits."
-end-
The research was supported by Robert and Arlene Kogod, the Hoeft family, the Pritzker Foundation, the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Others on the research team include Marissa Schafer, Ph.D., Elizabeth Atkinson, Patrick Vanderboom, Brian Kotajarvi, Thomas White, Ph.D., Matthew Moore, Charles Bruce, M.D., Kevin Greason, M.D., Rakesh Suri, Sundeep Khosla, M.D., Jordan Miller, Ph.D., H. Robert Bergen, III, Ph.D., all of Mayo Clinic.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/.

Mayo Clinic

Related Cardiovascular Disease Articles:

Is educational attainment associated with lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease?
Men and women with the lowest education level had higher lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease than those with the highest education level, according to a new study published by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Food policies could lower US cardiovascular disease rates
New research conducted by the University of Liverpool and partners shows that food policies, such as fruit and vegetable subsidies, taxes on sugar sweetened drinks, and mass media campaigns to change dietary habits, could avert hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the United States.
Cardiovascular disease causes one-third of deaths worldwide
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart diseases and stroke, account for one-third of deaths throughout the world, according to a new scientific study that examined every country over the past 25 years.
Kidney disease is a major cause of cardiovascular deaths
In 2013, reduced kidney function was associated with 4 percent of deaths worldwide, or 2.2 million deaths.
Cardiovascular disease costs will exceed $1 trillion by 2035
A new study projects that by 2035, cardiovascular disease, the most costly and prevalent killer, if left unchecked, will place a crushing economic and health burden on the nation's financial and health care systems.
Prescribing drugs for cardiovascular disease prevention in the UK
Drugs such as statins that have the potential to prevent strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease have not been prescribed to a large proportion of people at risk in the UK, according to a research article by Grace Turner of the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK and colleagues published in PLOS Medicine.
Fatty liver disease contributes to cardiovascular disease and vice versa
For the first time, researchers have shown that a bi-directional relationship exists between fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.
More dietary calcium may lower risk of cardiovascular disease
In older people, higher dietary calcium intake may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, but not of stroke and fracture, new research from South Korea suggests.
Renal hemodynamics and cardiovascular function in health and disease
The SRC will focus on unpublished work that is state-of-the-art in study of cardiovascular and renal disease and hypertension.
Cardiovascular disease in adult survivors of childhood cancer
For adult survivors of childhood cancer, cardiovascular disease presents at an earlier age, is associated with substantial morbidity, and is often asymptomatic.

Related Cardiovascular Disease Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".