Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2017 06 21() pii S1525-8610(17)30242-6
Specific mechanisms underlying frailty syndrome are not well known. Frailty can be viewed as a loss of functional reserve resulting in increased vulnerability to stressors. We hypothesize that pathways regulating cellular response to stress are potential players in the development of frailty. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association of the expression of certain genes related to cellular response to stress with the presence of frailty in older patients.
A sample of 350 individuals aged 65 years or older (22% frail) was selected from the Toledo Study of Healthy Aging. RNA was extracted from blood and retro-transcribed into complementary DNA. TaqMan Low density Arrays were used for the measurement of expression of genes implicated in cellular response to oxidative stress, genes implicated in inflammation, genes implicated in vascular physiology, and genes related to hypoxia. For data analysis, a logistic regression model was used to assess the relationship of gene expression and frailty.
Among the analyzed genes, lower expression of genes related to cellular response to hypoxia (hypoxia inducible factor-1α) or to cellular response to oxidative stress (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 and its target genes heme oxygenase-2, thioredoxin reductase-1, and superoxide dismutase-2), but not to those related to inflammation or vascular physiology, were significantly associated with the presence of frailty after adjustment for age and sex. These associations remained significant after adjustment by type 2 diabetes and Charlson index of comorbidities. Lower expressions of genes involved in cellular response to stress were also associated with increased risk of functional impairment.
Reduced expression of several genes implicated in cellular response to oxidative stress or hypoxia is significantly associated with the presence of frailty. These results help to fill the gap of knowledge of this evolving field and provide targets for intervention to promote health and independence in the elderly.