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Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (OAIC)

The goal of the OAIC program is to increase scientific knowledge that allows older adults to maintain or restore their independence. The NIA supports the OAICs to develop and enhance research and education at institutions with strong programs in aging research. This support is critical to address key research problems, technological limitations, and faculty development needs for future generations of appropriately-trained researchers. The OAICs are also known as "Pepper Centers" - so named to honor the late Senator Claude D. Pepper who championed the effort to create these centers of excellence. - Dalane W. Kitzman, MD, Director

 Research Spotlight

Abadir P, Jain A, Powell L, Xue QL, Tian J, Hamilton RG, Bennett D, Finucane T, Walston JD, Fedarko NS.

Drs. Abadir, Fedarko and colleagues have discovered that frail older individuals have markedly higher levels of an autoantibody that activates the angiotensin system. The angiotensin system is a key hormonal system that regulates blood pressure, inflammation, fibrosis and fluid balance. Consistent with the activation of the angiotension system type 1 receptors, the presence of these antibodies is associated with increased blood pressure, inflammatory burden and falls, and with decline in grip strength, walking speed and increased number of falls. For every 1 microgram per milliliter of blood increase in autoantibodies, the researchers observed a decrease in hand grip strength of 5.7 pounds. Additionally, every 1 microgram per milliliter of blood increase in autoantibodies increased the odds of falling by 30 percent.

To examine the effects of autoantibodies levels on ARBs, data from a second patient population of 60 individuals age 70 to 90 in Chicago was utilized to measure autoantibody levels. One half had been treated with ARBs. The investigators observed similar associations between autoantibody levels and decline in grip strength and walking speed in the Chicago population. Furthermore, for every 1 microgram per milliliter increase of autoantibodies, those not receiving ARBs lived 115 days less — approximately shortened life span by 9 percent. Chronic treatment with ARBs attenuated the autoantibodies’ association with decline in grip strength and increased mortality. The use of angiotensin receptor blocking agents (ARBs) in those with higher levels of autoantibodies also correlated with better control of blood pressure, suggesting a possible personalized medicine approach to high blood pressure treatment in older adults. The study was published on November 30, 2016 in the journal, Circulation. Dr. Abadir is a former JHU OAIC RCDC and Pilot awardee; Dr. Xue is the Biostatistics Core Director; Dr. Fedarko is the Pilot Core Leader; and Dr. Walston is JHU OAIC PI.

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