Can GnRH Administration Reduce Aging?


Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) is produced in a deep seated region of the brain called the hypothalamus.

The hormone functions to stimulate the sex glands to release sex hormones, mostly testosterone in men and estrogen in women.

We learned in a breakthrough report earlier this week, that GnRH levels decline with age in mice.  The researchers elegantly showed the reason for this was progressive inflammation within the hypothalamus that was age related.

The researchers showed that the inflammation was mediated by an immunological protein called NF-kB generated by brain immune cells within the hypothalamus.  They further found that blocking NF-kB production in the hypothalamus reduced aging and extended lifespan.

The results appeared to make the case that aging itself could be controlled by GnRH – age-related inflammation in the brain acts to reduce GnRH levels, and reduced levels of GnRH  accelerates aging.

The scientists took it one step, or perhaps one half step further.  They showed that regular GnRH administration to middle aged mice increased the number of brain cells and reduced signs of aging in the animals.  To wit they specially said “GnRH treatment (peripheral) reduced the magnitude of ageing histology in control mice, “and “GnRH led to an amelioration of ageing-related cognitive decline.”

But of course the holy grail question here is simply can regular peripheral administration of GnRH increase lifespan?

I contacted lead author Dongshen Cai MD-PhD and asked if the group had any lifespan data on regular GnRH treatment.

“We don’t have lifespan data regarding GnRH treatment,” he replied.

Too bad.

Imagine if simply a weekly or so injection of GnRH from early middle age onwards could lead to decades more good health and reduction of disease?

We of course don’t advocate going out and trying that, sex hormones also may increase cancer risk (breast in females, prostate in males) but this data is provacative.

Clearly this is an experiment that should be tried in animals right away.  Fortunately Dr. Cai agrees, “it is in our plan,” he says.

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9 Responses to “Can GnRH Administration Reduce Aging?”

  1. Edouard says:

    A little more of GnRH at mid life and later does not seem bad, evolutionary speeking.
    => If GnRH hypothalamic injection does extend lifespan, why hasn’t evolution found and selected it?

    My guess is that it will not extend lifespan (or very little), but I hope to be proved wrong!

  2. steve says:

    Why would evolution select for it? It is to the advantage of the individual but not necessarily the species.

    We know from research on c-elegans that there is a latent capacity for extended life by altering gene expression. One can asssume this latent capacity is tapped in to when needed by the species. Hopefully research will illustrate how to fool our bodies into triggering this life-extension capacity.

  3. Mel says:

    I wonder if there’s a tie-in to GnRH being produced in larger quantities when one is young/of reproductive age. Thoughts?

  4. Gari says:

    I’m not sure if GnRh could reduce aging. Perhaps it could. I don’t know. It would be nice but I guess I’d have to ask why would we want to do that? Is it in our interests to do so?

  5. Dave says:

    The paper showed significant lifespan extension by lentiviral administration of IKK-Ba, which inhibits the inflammatory factor NF-Kb. The lentivirus targeted IKK-Ba to the hypothalamus. I think GnRH administration sounds like the wrong approach (you noted that it can increase cancer risk). We should be attempting to reduce NF-Kb expression and activation. Reducing inflammation has the happy benefit of both increasing lifespan and decreasing cancer risk.

    • ssybbc says:

      I agree with you that things are not so simple, However hopefully NF-kB reduction doesn’t cause a compensatory increase of Nrf2, which seems to promote various kinds of cancer.

  6. Patricia says:

    Not so sure if GnRh would reduce ageing and improve health but it would be FANTASTIC if it did…

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