How little we still understand. New research at the Linus Pauling Institute reveals the above and opens the way for significant improvement in anti-aging:http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/research-identifies-key-genetic-link-biology-aging
"Nrf2 is both a monitor and a messenger, OSU researchers say. It’s constantly on the lookout for problems with cells that may be caused by the many metabolic insults of life – oxidative stress, toxins, pollutants, and other metabolic dysfunction.
When it finds a problem, Nrf2 essentially goes back to the cellular nucleus and rings the alarm bell, where it can “turn on” up to 200 genes that are responsible for cell repair, detoxification of carcinogens, protein and lipid metabolism, antioxidant protection and other actions. In their report, the scientists called it a “longevity-assurance” factor.
Nrf2 is so important that it’s found in many life forms, not just humans, and it’s constantly manufactured by cells throughout the body. About half of it is used up every 20 minutes as it performs its life-protective functions. Metabolic insults routinely increase with age, and if things were working properly, the amount of Nrf2 that goes back into the nucleus should also increase to help deal with those insults.
Instead, the level of nuclear Nrf2 declines, and the OSU scientists say they have discovered why.
“The levels of Nrf2, and the functions associated with it, are routinely about 30-40 percent lower in older laboratory animals
,” said Kate Shay, director of the Healthy Aging Core Laboratory at OSU and co-author on this study. “We’ve been able to show for the first time what we believe is the cause.”The reason for this decline, the scientists said, is increasing levels of a micro-RNA called miRNA-146a
. Micro-RNAs have been one of the most profound scientific discoveries of the past 20 years. They were once thought to be “junk DNA” because researchers could see them but they had no apparent biological role. They are now understood to be anything but junk
– they help play a major role in genetic signaling, controlling what genes are “expressed,” or turned on and off to perform their function.
...This can cause part of the chronic, low-grade inflammation that is associated with the degenerative diseases that now kill most people
in the developed world, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and neurological disease."
The above article does not emphasize the hormonal influences on Nrf2 but notice that having proper estradiol and progesterone levels are probably crucial according to this study:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25172557Basically, estradiol increased Nrf2 activity and progesterone decreased it
. This is another reason why you don't want estradiol too low or progesterone too high!