Chronic stress accelerates aging of the eye: study

Research from the University of California at Irvine (United States) suggests that aging is an important component of retinal ganglion cell death in glaucoma, and that new pathways may be addressed when designing new treatments for patients with glaucoma.

The study, published in the scientific journal ‘Aging Cell‘, describes the transcriptional and epigenetic changes that occur in the aged retina.

The team shows how stress, such as elevation of Intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye, causes the retinal tissue to undergo epigenetic and transcriptional changes similar to aging natural. And, how in young retinal tissue, repetitive stress induces characteristics of accelerated aging, including accelerated epigenetic age.

Aging is a universal process that affects all cells of an organism. In the eye, it is an important risk factor for a group of neuropathies called glaucoma.

Photo: Pixabay

Due to the increase in population aging Worldwide, current estimates indicate that the number of people with glaucoma (ages 40 to 80) will increase to more than 110 million by 2040.

“Our work underscores the importance of early diagnosis and prevention, as well as targeted treatment of age-related diseases, including glaucoma. The epigenetic changes that we observed suggest that changes at the chromatin level are acquired cumulatively, after several instances of stress. This provides us with a window of opportunity for the prevention of vision lossas long as the disease is recognized in time,” commented one of the labor leaders, Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk.

In humans, IOP has a circadian rhythm. In healthy people, it is normally in the range of 12-21 mmHg and tends to be higher in approximately two-thirds of individuals during the night period.

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Due to IOP fluctuations, a single IOP measurement is often insufficient to characterize the pathology and the risk of disease progression in glaucoma patients. Long-term IOP fluctuation has been reported to be a strong predictor of glaucoma progression. This new study suggests that the cumulative impact of IOP fluctuations is directly responsible for tissue aging.

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