AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: endocrine system

Childhood Stress: Impact on Blood Pressure, Obesity, and Diabetes

Childhood stress can lead to chronic diseases? A study conducted by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, emphasizes the importance of comprehending the impact of perceived stress on cardiometabolic health factors, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Based on data from the Southern California Children’s Health Study, the study revealed that consistently high levels of perceived stress from adolescence through adulthood were associated with a greater risk for cardiometabolic diseases in young adulthood. Individuals experiencing prolonged stress during this period exhibited worse vascular health, higher total body fat, increased abdominal fat, and a heightened risk of obesity. 

The study indicated a general association between higher perceived stress levels and elevated risks of various cardiometabolic health conditions. Those reporting higher stress levels demonstrated poorer vascular health and higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The findings suggest that healthcare professionals could benefit from incorporating the Perceived Stress Scale into routine clinic assessments to identify individuals with higher stress levels early, enabling timely intervention and treatment. 

While the study provides valuable insights into the long-term impact of stress on cardiometabolic health, it acknowledges the limitation of its relatively small size. The researchers recommend more extensive studies to clarify and validate the associations between perceived stress patterns and various risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases. In a study on adolescents in Louisiana, researchers found that poor diet quality during adolescence is linked to lasting health risks, according to the article Poor diet quality during adolescence is linked to serious health risks. The study focused on physical activity, sleep, and dietary patterns, aiming to improve diet and reduce health risks, including cardiometabolic risks. The findings show that not following dietary guidelines is tied to ongoing health issues in teens over two years. Ensuring adolescents maintain an active lifestyle, adopt a wholesome diet, prioritize quality sleep, and manage stress levels becomes crucial for their overall well-being.

In AP Bio’s Unit 3 on Cell Communication, we explored the endocrine system: a complex network of glands and organs that secrete hormones into the bloodstream to regulate various physiological functions and maintain homeostasis in the body. Perceived stress triggers the activation of the body’s stress response, which involves the release of stress hormones from the endocrine system, primarily cortisol and adrenaline. The prolonged exposure to high levels of stress, as indicated by the study, may lead to dysregulation in the endocrine system. This dysregulation could contribute to disturbances in metabolic processes, potentially explaining the observed associations with cardiometabolic risk factors.  Endocrine EnglishMy grandfather, Steve, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1995. His body’s cells became resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, glucose cannot enter cells efficiently, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. As a kid, my grandfather always told me to drink water and get in those daily vegetables with every sweet I ate. As I’ve researched, diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats contribute to obesity and insulin resistance. A diet rich in processed foods and poor in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. I would love to hear your thoughts and insights on childhood stress linked to chronic diseases. Please share your comments and join the conversation!

The Key to SARS-CoV-2 Survival

Can your chance of surviving SARS-Cov-2 be predicted? It sure can be due to recently combined research efforts by ISB, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Stanford University, Swedish Medical Center St. John’s Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center, the University of Washington, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. It comes from studying your immune system and a special part of your endocrine system, your metabolism

The researchers sampled the blood of nearly 200 COVID-19 patients. They took two draws per patient during the first week after being diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection, totaling 374 blood samples. The researchers then analyzed their plasma and single immune cells. The analysis included 1,387 genes involved in metabolic pathways and 1,050 plasma metabolites. 

“We analyzed thousands of biological markers linked to metabolic pathways that underlie the immune system and found some clues as to what immune-metabolic changes may be pivotal in severe disease,” says researcher and graduate student from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Jihoon Lee. Well, what were these clues? The clue is the link between how certain metabolic changes regulate how immune cells react when it comes to disease severity and predicting patient survival. Basically, increased COVID-19 severity leads to increased immune-related activity. 

Image drawn by author

With these new discoveries, researchers used single-cell sequencing to further investigate. They found that each major immune cell type has a distinct metabolic signature. “We have found metabolic reprogramming that is highly specific to individual immune cell classes (e.g. “killer” CD8+ T cells, “helper” CD4+ T cells, antibody-secreting B cells, etc.) and even cell subtypes, and the complex metabolic reprogramming of the immune system is associated with the plasma global metabolome and are predictive of disease severity and even patient death,”  says Dr. Yapeng Su, a research scientist at Institute for Systems Biology.

Despite the need for more advanced single-cell multi-omic analysis, this research has proven to be very successful. It provides significant insights for developing more effective treatments against COVID-19. What do you think about this research being used for predicting survivability for other diseases to come? 

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