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System That Regulates Blood Pressure May Also Affect Aging

Studies find it influences mental function, how body responds to exercise

MONDAY, Nov. 22, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The same system -- the renin-angiotensin system -- that helps the body regulate blood pressure may also play a role in aging, says research by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center scientists.

In four separate studies, they found that, along with regulating blood pressure, the renin-angiotensin system also has an important influence on mental function, body composition and how the body responds to exercise.

"This is exciting because it suggests that a whole new mechanism might be involved in aging. It offers new opportunities to explore treatments to help older adults maintain their function," Stephen Kritchevsky, a professor of gerontology, said in a prepared statement.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is a key component of the renin-angiotensin system. ACE converts an inactive protein called angiotensin I into angiotensin II, a protein that constricts blood vessels. Angiotensin II is balanced by another hormone that researchers believe helps "brake" high blood pressure, Kritchevsky said.

"It's becoming apparent that this system is involved in more than just blood pressure," he said.

The research was presented Nov. 22 at the Gerontological Society of America's annual scientific meeting in Washington, D.C.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has information about the effects of aging.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Nov. 22, 2004
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