Newly conducted research which was presented at the 2016 “Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology” conference organized by the “European Society of Cardiology” showed promising results from a clinical trial aiming to prove that weight loss from bariatric surgery may reverse premature-aging associated with obesity. The “Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology” meetings are considered to be some of the most relevant exchange platforms for basic and translational cardiovascular biology information. This proved to be true once again, as many exciting trail and study results were revealed to the crowd of scientists present. The most exciting results from our study dealing with the link between premature aging and obesity, was a noticeable decrease in inflammation and elongation for patients’ telomeres after two years removed from the bariatric surgical procedures.
Why Are Longer Telomeres Important?
One positive benefit worth highlighting is the patient’s growth of longer telomeres after their bariatric procedures. This regrowth of longer telomeres is extremely beneficial because telomeres are the internal clock of each cell. They get shorter when a cell divides or when oxidative stress causes them to break. The negative effect of shortened telomeres is that the cell can no longer divide, and it will stay in the body as an aging cell. Previous research has found that obese women had shorter telomeres than women with a healthy resting weight. The downsides to having shorter telomeres and therefore older cells is an increased risk for mal-division or cell mutation, as well as an increased risk for cancer.
Dr. Phillip Hohensinner, who is a researcher at the Medical University of Viennas in Vienna, Austria remarked that he noted the strong connection between younger cells and weight lost:
“We think the cells appear to be getting younger, with longer telomeres, because there is less breakage from telomere oxidation. Obesity, and specifically having a lot of fat tissue, seems to put the entire body under increased stress. By losing weight and therefore adipose tissue, that stress reduces and the body becomes younger.” His take on the study suggests that there may very well be a scientifically-backed reason to get up off the couch and lose those pounds.
The reduction in the number of shortened telomeres was not the lone benefit the patients whom underwent these bariatric procedures experienced. The patients who lost an average 38% of their bodyweight, also had decreases in the amount of the pro-inflammatory cytokines plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, and interleukin-6, and an increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10.
*Interleukin-6: inflammation causing cell
These changes in prevalence of these proteins in the body all signal a strong shift in the body from a stressed state of inflammation to a more stable cell environment. This is even better news because it shows the body has an enormous capacity for regeneration and will always attempt to reach a healthy homeostasis. Dr. Hohensinner was pleased with the result from his study commenting that:
“This is positive news for patients who have bariatric surgery for weight loss because it shows that the damage from obesity can be reversed. Surgery is the last resort for these patients and it is good to see that not only do they lose weight but they also reduce the stress on their body and reduce the premature aging.”
Dr. Mehran, head surgeon at University was also happy to see positive results from the study. He relayed these positive remarks on the matter:
“As a seasoned bariatric surgeon with years of experience in the field it is nice to see what I have already witnessed first-hand, be backed up with clinical studies. I believe this to be a rewarding study as it will further help to shift the standard for treatment for obesity to more successful means of weight-management such as bariatric procedures. Yet it is a slow process. Results like these further help to prove the effective and beneficial nature of weight loss surgery. It gives us concrete evidence of the bodies shift from a pro-inflammatory state towards a healthier resting state after significant weight loss. At the end of the day, what all bariatric surgeons should care about most is the patient. This study further highlights the positives gained from bariatric surgery for the patient and hopefully with more studies like this in the future it will help us to eventually shift the standard of treatment for this American epidemic.”