Age and Stress make you sick!

Age and Stress affect the immune system, from the epigenetic level

With age increases the risk of many diseases and also in the case of high stress, increased diseases and inflammation processes in the body are to determine the levels. Researchers from the Max-Planck-Institute for psychiatry have now to examine which epigenetic processes might be in Stress and aging the cause for the increased risk of disease.

Stress performs as well as the aging to an increased risk of disease and enhanced inflammatory processes, according to the Max-Planck-Institute for psychiatry. The underlying molecular processes are yet unclear. It was known that age and Stress have an impact epigenetically. “Whether these epigenetic effects affect molecules that are involved in inflammatory processes”, have the researchers in their latest study, checked. The results of the study were published in the journal “PNAS”.

Researchers from the Max-Planck-Institute of psychiatry investigated the epigenetic effects of Stress and age on our body and significant effect on the immune system found. (Image: terovesalainen/

Accelerated epigenetic changes

The epigenetic processes that determine whether genes are stronger, weaker, or not at all read. While epigenetic changes in the course of life are quite normal, explain the researchers. However, they are accelerated by the aging process, as well as by Stress. With increasing Stress, the “epigenetic aging, moving ahead” faster.

Influence on inflammatory processes

For the current study, the research team had evaluated by the first author Anthony S. Zannas, the data from more than 3,000 Participants between the ages of 18 and 87 years. In the process, to demonstrate that “epigenetic changes caused by Stress and age, associated with changes in the immune system that are critical for inflammatory processes in cardiovascular diseases”, so the message of the Max-Planck-could-Institute for psychiatry.

Epigenetic effect decrypted

Cells play in the regulation of the immune system has a crucial role to learn, according to the researchers, a faster epigenetic aging, which also leads to a higher risk for a heart attack by a lot of Stress. The epigenetic effect of Stress and age have been shown by the reduction of the so-called methylation of the gene FKBP5. This ultimately lead to an increased inflammatory response through the activation of an important immune regulator NF-kB.

Rise In Heart Attack Risk

The first author Anthony S. Zannas, according to the through the ageing process and Stress induced epigenetic changes in the immune system may be attacks “is a risk factor for inflammation and heart.” In the case of heart attack patients were also exactly the epigenetic changes caused by increased Stress and the accelerated aging process.

New approaches for therapies

We were able to identify a mechanism, the disorders could be responsible for the incidence of cardiovascular diseases in people with Stress-related psychiatric, explained the Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for psychiatry, Elisabeth Binder. It is also managed to the researchers, the inhibition or deletion of FKBP5 in immune cells, the response to the immune system to prevent. “The described epigenetic modifications, as well as the immune changes could serve as biomarkers and help at an increased risk for diseases such as a heart attack, to predict”, so the message of the Max-Planck-Institute for psychiatry. In addition, the Knowledge of the interrelationships of Stress, age, and inflammatory processes could lead to new treatment approaches for Stress-related disorders. (fp)